Will Texas Trial Judge Get Chance to Rule Death Penalty Unconstitutional in Pending Murder Case?

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In Houston, Texas, a man named John Edward Green is on trial for the murder of a Houston woman and her sister during the commission of a robbery, and the State of Texas is seeking the death penalty. Presiding over this trial is state district judge Kevin Fine, and Judge Fine has become somewhat of a national celebrity in some circles as someone trying to rule on the constitutionality of the death penalty (which most think is an issue pretty well settled by the U.S. Supreme Court), opening the doors to appellate review, and reconsideration, by doing so. Judge Fine did make a ruling on the issue back in March (he declared the death penalty unconstitutional then) but he took that back (rescinded) and opted to schedule an evidentiary hearing on the matter. That hearing was scheduled to begin December 7, 2010.

Of course, he’s been stopped. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals shot him down under the standard been-there, done-that argument you would expect. (Officially, they heard the Harris County District Attorney’s Office motion to stop the hearing, and two days into it, the appellate court halted the proceedings before Judge Fine until further notice.)

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