Wake Forest law students, faculty and alumni travel to Atlanta to protest execution

A group of Wake Forest University law students, professors and alumni will join a march on Friday, Sept. 16, in downtown Atlanta to protest the execution of Troy Davis.

Members of the Wake Forest School of Law Criminal Law Roundtable have partnered with Professor Mark Rabil, director of the law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic, and wrongfully convicted exoneree Darryl Hunt to join the march, which will be followed by an interfaith service. Hunt spent 19 and half years in prison for the murder and rape of a Winston-Salem Journal copy editor before he was exonerated through DNA evidence. Also joining the march will be Wake Forest law alumnus Larry D. Little (’88), who was the leader of the Darryl Hunt Defense Committee for nearly 20 years. He is now a professor at Winston-Salem State University.

“I am encouraging my students to ride the bus with me and Darryl to Atlanta because sometimes injustices are corrected by demonstrating our solidarity with the wrongly convicted by marching and drawing attention to the tragedy,” Rabil said. “Marching in the streets of Atlanta in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and praying for Troy Davis and the families of the officer who was wrongly killed and of Davis who was wrongly convicted in Dr. King’s Church will teach our students that actions other than litigation must sometimes be taken in order to achieve justice.”

Davis has been on death row since 1991, found guilty of the murder of a Savannah, Ga., police officer.  Since his trial, seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him have recanted and five new witnesses say another man – one of the State’s witnesses — is the real shooter, according to Rabil.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing on his innocence claim due to the recantantations, but the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia upheld the conviction, going as far as to say “Davis is not innocent.” The high court upheld the ruling and Davis’ execution date was confirmed for Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. in Jackson, Ga.  The clemency process is thus in motion and a hearing has been set for Monday.

In the mean time, a Global Day of Solidarity has been scheduled for Friday and will include the protest march, said Wake Forest law student Mary Beth Usher (’13).

“Students who would like to attend the protest would join Amnesty International and a host of other local, national, and international organizations in calling upon Georgia’s Parole Board to err on the side of caution by mercifully commuting Davis’ sentence to life,” she said.

“This activity is of acute interest to law students interested in the criminal justice system, as Davis has exhausted all court remedies and now can only seek relief from the Georgia Board of Pardons and/or the Georgia Governor. Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity to see how politics merge with litigation.”

Buses (free of charge) will leave promptly at 10 a.m. from Emmanual Baptist Church on Reynolds Park Road on Friday, Sept. 16, and will return after the rally. Hunt as well as several members of the Darryl Hunt Defense Committee will be on the buses and marching.