Government death row pleas are ‘ignored by Texas’


Linda Cartyall credits: The Morning Star
12th April 2010

An attempted intervention by the British government in the case of death row inmate Linda Carty has been ignored by the state of Texas, her lawyers have said. Ms Carty, a British passport-holder, was sentenced to death by a Texan court in 2002 for her alleged part in the murder of Joana Rodriguez.

Despite a bilateral convention, Britain was not informed that one of its citizens had been arrested on murder charges. Ms Carty has always protested her innocence and is now seeking to persuade the US Supreme Court that her conviction and death sentence are unsafe.

Legal charity Reprieve has described her trial as “catastrophically flawed” and labelled Ms Carty’s state-appointed attorney as inept.

Jerry Guerinot, Ms Carty’s then legal representative, only met his client for 15 minutes before trial, failed to interview key witnesses or present evidence in her defence and did not notify the British government of her plight, Reprieve argues.

The British government has issued an “amicus brief” to the US Supreme Court, arguing that, had it been notified of Ms Carty’s arrest, it could have made “a real difference to the effectiveness of her defence and ultimately to her sentence.” But in a lengthy response to the Supreme Court, the state of Texas did not refer to the amicus brief once.

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said: “It is not surprising that the Texas authorities have attempted to ignore the British government’s allegations against them.

“They are very serious indeed. Linda would probably have been acquitted and would certainly not be on death row today if Texas had fulfilled their basic responsibilities towards her.

“These are desperate times for Linda and the British government must do everything in their power to help save her life.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We have submitted three amicus briefs to the US courts asking them to consider issues of concern, particularly regarding the fact and consequences of the initial failure of the local authorities to inform us of her arrest and the difference this could have made to her defence.

“We will continue to time interventions to have maximum effect in consultation with Linda Carty’s lawyers.”

The British grandmother’s last hope is that the US Supreme Court will agree to hear her case. If the petition is unsuccessful her life will be in the hands of the governor of Texas.

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