Interview with Steve Hall

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    •  Feazell, Vic 
    •  Mattox, Jim (Attorney General) 
    •  Pickett, Carroll (Rev.) 
    •  Wade, Henry (District Attorney) 
     
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    •  Growth of prison system and the death penalty 
    •  Watch Video 1, Video 3 of "Interview with Mr. Steve Hall." 
     
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    •  HINZ-FOLEY: …Texas with Steve Hall. Today is February the fourth 2009. Again, do you consent to this interview, or… 
    •  HALL: I do. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: We explained the risks, Hah, and everything. Alrighty, we have Kim Bacon doing the camera work, and myself Sabina Hinz-Foley for the interview. All right, well last interview we had left off with the lethal injection, would you like to elaborate a little bit on anything? 
    •  HALL: I think one of the things that really came out of that, of watching the executions, what was especially disturbing to me was that the State of Texas was spending a great deal of time, effort, and resources, which really means money to kill one person at that time in the middle of the night, without really addressing any of the root causes. 
    •  HALL: And as I may have said last time, most of the people executed at that time really had committed virtually the same crime. They had robbed a convienience store, killed the clerk. 
    •  HALL: They were virtually all, serious long time abusers of drugs and/or alcohol.  About half of those people who were executed during that period didn't even have a clear recollection of the event. 
    •  HALL: These were people guilty of very serious crimes, murder, but when you looked at it in context with other crimes and what the death penalty is supposed to be reserved for, the worst of the worst, most of those people likely didn't meet that category. 
    •  HALL: And there they were, in a prison setting, clean and sober, experie..  able to obtain some education, work. And in many cases, that individual, eight, ten years after the crime was in many ways a very different person than the one who had committed that murder. 
    •  HALL: And yet there we were spending a lot of precious resources to kill that one person on one night. And, we certainly saw the crimes repeat. 
    •  HALL: All you have to do is, is, look at that to have the sense, anyone who believes that there is a deterrent effect in the death penalty is,  I think mistaken. 
    •  HALL: And you can go through all of the academic studies, and I haven't seen one that shows any clear deterrent effect to capital punishment. 
    •  HALL: I think that was, that was probably the most lasting impression that I came away with was that it was really a failed experiment by government, something that did not really solve the long term problem, and yet at an enormous expenditure of resources. 
    •  HALL: And it's interesting that in recent years other states really have begun to look at that and where you've seen abolition occur, such as New Jersey, one of the primary reasons has been the cost of their application of capital punishment. 
    •  HALL:  So that's, that's probably the single greatest lesson that I felt that I saw and learned, and, and took away from those executions. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I mean so from what I understood is that you know these people have, that you watched being executed after being on Death Row for so long had been practically rehabilitated in many ways and you were watching someone who didn't fit the description of the crime they committed many years before. How did that feel? Did that then change your feelings about the death penalty or have you always had the same feelings about the---? 
    •  HALL: Well it's, it's interesting I went into the Attorney General's office really without thinking a great deal of the death penalty. 
    •  ALL: For one thing we were in a period where there had been no executions for quite a while and for another thing I think as is the case with most people you really don't think about the death penalty and it's certainly not something that you believe will have any direct impact on your life. 
    •  HALL: So I really hadn't given it any thought. And in the Attorney General's office, that was one of the things that the Texas Attorney General did was handle those cases in the federal courts at the end of their life span when an execution was imminent. 
    •  HALL: And I, I really do I think it was that exposure to executions and thinking about that thinking about our state policy and the reality of that,  it struck me that it was simply a failed experiment that wasted a lot of resources and really solved no problems. 
    •  HALL: Over the years I have had the chance to talk to Carroll Pickett, who was one of the people that I met in witnessing those executions. 
    •  HALL: And Carroll speaks so profoundly about the notion of closure and how it's, it was his experience watching victims' families, surviving victims' family members, that it was a false notion, that in fact an execution never brought them closure. 
    •  HALL:  And as a friend of mine has said -- who is a surviving family member of a murder -- he says closure is what you do in a real-estate deal, but it really has no meaning for a surviving family member. That that doesn't bring their member back to life -- 
    •  HALL:  --  and in fact it only creates another surviving family that has the same grief and sorrow and loss. 
    •  HALL: I think that the, the other aspect of it you, you talked about rehabilitation I think that clearly some of those people were rehabilitated. 
    •  HALL: I think that it was, it was also an issue that in most of those cases with very, very few exceptions, you saw people who had had horrific lives as children and adolescents -- often abandonment, abuse, physical, verbal, emotional. 
    •  HALL: Many of them had been fractured individuals and they had not found the support either through family or friends or community to build their lives. 
    •  HALL: And I think that was, there a certain irony that for someof them at least that's what they found in prison they found somecommunity, someeducational opportunity, somesocial workers, people who did help them grow as people in ways that in some of them had not been able to do before their crimes. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: What are your feelings about just staying with rehabilitation? The education in prisons and the whole prison system, obviously the aim here in Texas is to not rehabilitate, yet you know there are very many cases especially on Death Row where people go out of their way to work toward rehabilitation and not sure if it's because of this idea that they are, you know, dying or -- but what is---, what do you---, what is your experience---, have you had any experience? (inaudible, both talking at same time) 
    •  HALL: Well, I think, I think one of the hardest things to watch has been the growth of Death Row. 
    •  HALL: I think we mentioned that back in the early 1980s there were roughly 160 people, 160 to 170 people on Texas Death Row. 
    •  HALL: At one point in Texas it was approximately four hundred and fifty.Because of some judicial remedies, we've seen that scale back right now to a bit less than four hundred. 
    •  HALL: We've seen the general prison population go from a population at that time of about thirty-five thousand to today in 2009 more like a hundred and fifty-five thousand. And so we are incarcerating far more people than we were twenty-five years ago. 
    •  HALL: And in spite of the best efforts of State Senator John Whitmire to fund programs that are effective in keeping people out of prison, particularly drug and alcohol abuse counseling and other programming, Texas is not doing enough. 
    •  HALL: And regrettably, it comes at the expense of every other program that the State funds, whether that's primary education, higher education, or road building, or anything else that's in our society. 
    •  HALL: And so, that's the real horrific societal cost that we see of abandoning rehabilitation, education, counseling, to keep people out of prison who shouldn't be there. For those who are sent to prison to help them to build a life to get them out of prison as quickly as possible, and to remain outta prison. And to help build our state community in ways that we are not doing today with prison programs. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I wanted to go back to some of the things you talked about last interview, when you were working at the Attorney General's Office again. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: You mentioned that former Attorney General Mattox had, you talked about him being kind of a populist and his way of being a --  you mentioned the possibility he was throwing around the office that, execution could potentially be televised -- 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Can you talk some more about Mattox specifically and his view of the death penalty or how he went about all of that because I do, I think I remember you mentioning that he did see a lot of problems.   
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: He was unsettled by with the way that executions were being carried out? Did he also think of the death penalty, the prosecution of the death penalty as this kind of unnecessary expenditure? Could you talk a little about that? 
    •  HALL: Sure. Attorney General Mattox had conflicting views about capital punishment. He had started his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas County. 
    •  HALL: And that was at a time when Henry Wade – a legendary District Attorney -- was presiding over that office.  He did a lot of good things. He instituted real on the job training and a lot of good practices but unfortunately Henry Wade did a lot of bad things as well. 
    •  HALL: Some of those have really come to light in the last ten years or so. Some were, some were known even then. 
    •  HALL: One of the most notorious policies that Henry Wade had was to keep minorities off juries. He believed that minorities, both ethnic and racial, might be more sympathetic to defendants and so he instructed his assistant district attorneys to at all costs keep minorities off juries. 
    •  HALL: This has resulted in some real injustices, and some of those have been corrected even as late as a year ago and two years ago. 
    •  HALL: When he was an Assistant District Attorney, General Mattox never prosecuted a death penalty case. He did prosecute some serious felonies and won some multi-hundred year sentences, which was another feature of Henry Wade's administration. 
    •  HALL: He encouraged, the seeking of spectacularly long prison sentences, even though they really had no real effect because of the parole review conditions of that time. 
    •  HALL: A life sentence was effectively no different than a six hundred year sentence, and yet, his office really went after some of those spectacular headline-grabbing sentences. 
    •  HALL: But that formed a basis for General Mattox's practical legal education. And he was certainly aware that most of the people prosecuted, particularly in capital cases, were poor. That was the first element. 
    •  HALL: There is definitely a racial element to the death penalty that has been very well documented by now, and, the most glaring statistic is that murderers of whites are much more likely to be the target of the death penalty. 
    •  HALL: And in fact, in Dallas County, out of Dallas County, there was something back in the fifties, and certainly into the early sixties known as "misdemeanor murders," and this involved Black victims: that if the defendant in a Black murder could afford restitution to pay for the victim's funeral, in some cases, charges were reduced, even to the level of misdemeanor crimes, hence the term, "misdemeanor murders." 
    •  HALL: All of that informed Mattox when he became a state representative and he was elected and serving in the legislature at the time the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. 
    •  HALL: That ruling came before he was elected; the repercussions felt after he was elected. 
    •  HALL: And Texas and a number of other states rushed to update their death penalty laws to meet the standards articulated in Furman. 
    •  HALL:  When one of those bills came to a vote in the Texas House, Mattox voted against the bill, which was not a popular position, but he entered into the House Journal a statement that he voted against the bill because he considered parts of it to be unconstitutional and he felt vindicated that eventually, the Supreme Court did that. 
    •  HALL: They initially approved the Texas death penalty statute, in 1974, in the Gregg v. Georgia, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_6257, ruling that affected Georgia, Texas, and Florida laws. 
    •  HALL: Eventually, part of that law was declared unconstitutional and the state legislature had to revisit that. 
    •  HALL: So all of that then continued to inform him in the Attorney General's office. 
    •  HALL: And as I think we discussed, when he ran for office, he ran on a "tough on crime" platform, was very cognizant of the small amount of the office that had criminal law enforcement jurisdiction, including representing the state in federal habeas proceedings. 
    •  HALL: So he came to that office with a very solid background in criminal law, criminal prosecution, but also a wide variety of experience that helped inform him, and I know that he made a practice of going to the executions, primarily because of, the experience he had in October of 1984, at the first scheduled execution during his administration. 
    •  HALL: But it also, it raised the same questions for him, that we had this process, this expensive process, that killed one person on one night, without solving the problems. 
    •  HALL: And he always told his capital habeas attorneys if there's a problem with a case, he wanted to know about it. 
    •  HALL: And one case where that came about was Henry Lee Lucas. Henry Lee Lucas had been convicted of a murder in Williamson County, immediately north of Austin, sentenced to death, and Lucas then went on to cooperate with the local sheriff and a Texas Ranger "solving" other murders. 
    •  HALL: And eventually, law enforcement from all over the country were beating a path to Georgetown, Texas to the jail in order to get Lucas to confess to cold cases in their jurisdictions. 
    •  HALL: At one point, I think that he had confessed to in excess of four hundred murders and it reached a point where it simply collapsed, it was ludicrous that people believed him. 
    •  HALL: But before it reached that point, a District Attorney in Texas, the District Attorney in McClennan County --  Waco -- came to visit General Mattox to air problems and concerns that he had about this Lucas Task Force. 
    •  HALL:  Vic Feazell was the District Attorney's name and at the request of his sheriff, he had gone down to Williamson County to look at what was going on. 
    •  HALL: They had an infamous, notorious murder that had happened in the county a few years earlier and the sheriff believed that perhaps Lucas was the key to solving that. 
    •  HALL: And Vic Feazell went and was very disturbed at what he saw. 
    •  HALL: He made an appointment with General Mattox, came down and told him that he saw clear security breaches, bad procedures, situations where Lucas had access to crime files -- and was very skeptical of the whole proceeding. 
    •  HALL: And in fact returned to his county and told his sheriff that they would not be participating. 
    •  HALL:  This was a real controversy.  This was -- 
    •  HALL: And I think this was a real example of General Mattox stepping up and taking the oath of his office seriously. He met with the Department of Public Safety and others, he assigned an investigator from the Criminal Law Enforcement Division to investigate and eventually our office issued a report. 
    •  HALL: And in the report, we turned up documentary evidence that Henry Lee Lucas was likely in the state of Florida at the time the Williamson County murder occurred for which he had been convicted and sentenced to death. 
    •  HALL: And General Mattox was very outspoken in his criticism of the Lucas Task Force and he was outspoken in his firm conviction that Henry Lee Lucas was innocent of that murder for which he had been sentenced to death. 
    •  HALL: And I think that that report with the state seal on it is a primary reason that Henry Lee Lucas, his death sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison by then-Governor George Bush. 
    •  HALL: And I think had our office done the easy thing and turned its back on a controversial investigation involving a convicted murderer, I think Henry Lee Lucas would have been executed. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Well.  I remember you mentioning, somebody, I think you mentioned a… mentioning a few of the cases where, I think also—was it Gary's case? 
    •  HALL: The, well ,no,… it was, a, the case of Clarence Brandley… 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Oh, okay 
    •  HALL: Clarence Brandley had been convicted and sentenced to death in Conroe, Texas. And really from the beginning, many believed that Brandley had been railroaded. 
    •  HALL: And Hugh Ainsworth, who was an investigative reporter, I believe still believe was with the Dallas Times Heraldat that time, visited General Mattox, to talk to him about that case.       
    •  HALL:  Shortly after that I believe, is when 60 Minutes ran a report on the Brandley case. They got a lot of attention and really caused, brought a lot of great deal of focus on that case. 
    •  HALL: Before it reached our office, the Court of Criminal Appeals appointed a special master in the case. 
    •  HALL: He held hearings, and in relatively short order after he took over the case, Clarence Bradley was exonerated and freed. 
    •  HALL: And it, that case later became the subject of the book White Lies. And it's clear that Clarence Bradley was turned into a suspect and prosecuted and convicted on the worse forms of racial prejudice. 
    •  HALL: And sadly Clarence did not really receive compensation for the years he spent in prison, properly. 
    •  HALL: Well after his release, State Senator Rodney Ellis dramatically increased the amount of compensation available to those who were wrongly convicted. 
    •  HALL: But Clarence did not gain from that. 
    •  HALL: The good news is that Clarence is still alive, still active, and just in November of 2008, participated in the annual meeting of Witness to Innocence, which is an organization composed of and supporting individuals who've been exonerated from Death Row across the nation. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Wow! Thank you. Someone else to talk to. Is there anything else you'd like you say about Mattox? 
    •  HALL: I think that we've pretty well covered. He was very concerned with the problems at the Texas Department of Corrections — now the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -- and really worked to resolve those and I think that it's clear that his tenure as Attorney General was really a high point in his political career, but I also think that he is he is widely regarded now as the best Attorney General in recent times in Texas. 
    •  HALL: He had great deal of integrity as Attorney General.  He was definitely a populist. 
    •  HALL: His slogan was "the people's lawyer" and in representing the state and state agencies he always thought beyond the executive director or the political leadership. He really thought of the people of Texas ultimately as the people in charge of state government, and applied that. 
    •  HALL: And he ran again for Attorney General later in the 1990s, in the late 1990s, and I think that he would have brought a lot of new ideas to Texas government and particularly to the prison system. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Are there any other experiences you've had throughout your career starting from working as a journalist? Did you do any work kind of in the criminal justice system specifically, know capital punishment as a journalist? 
    •  HALL: When I was doing journalism, we, I covered the Texas legislative session in 1975.  There was certainly some death penalty legislation but that was not anything that I covered. 
    •  HALL:  I then worked at KEEE A.M., KJCS F.M.  --  I can still say that -- 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: (laughs) 
    •  HALL:  -- in Lufkin/Nacogdoches for a year. 
    •  HALL:  And in Lufkin I covered my very first murder trial. And it was a really eye-opening experience. 
    •  HALL:  It was a case involving a young African American, and even through the testimony that was presented, it seemed a very clear case of self-defense and yet he was convicted of murder and given a ten-year sentence. 
    •  HALL: I do not know about his specific case, but knowing generally how the system worked at that time in Angelina County, it's my suspicion that he was probably offered a plea deal, or his parents were, and frankly my guess is they were probably offended. 
    •  HALL: I'm not sure if he, if the family retained an attorney or if the attorney was appointed, but I have to say the attorney did an abysmal job of presenting the case. 
    •  HALL:  And it was a real eye-opening experience because if your awareness of our criminal justice system comes from watching television courtroom dramas or police procedurals, the reality is nothing like that. 
    •  HALL: And so it was a really eye-opening experience. And I think as with any experience you have it tends to inform your awareness and your sensibilities as you move forward in looking at those issues. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: What are there any particular cases other some of the really, really bad compelling ones that we touched on also really impacted … 
    •  HALL: Well did we talk about the Graham case? 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I think we did 
    •  HALL:  -- touch on that? 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY:  Is that the case, is that the case where you flew in from Washington? 
    •  HALL:  Yes. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Okay, we did talk about that. 
    •  HALL:  Okay. 
    •  HALL:  That was, that was, the case of Gary Graham that really had the greatest impact on me professionally, my views of capital punishment and the criminal justice system, and really continues to inform me about our system. 
    •  HALL: I know we talked some about the way things return to the table and many of those issues that were at the heart of Gary's case are still on the table in Texas and other states as they seek to examine wrongful convictions and to correct the criminal justice system and put safeguards in place to help prevent wrongful convictions. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Yeah, let's see, other than the Graham case, would that probably……that's when you starting becoming more active. You were at the Texas Resource Center at that point? 
    •  HALL: I was at the Resource Center and eventually an administrator there and in, I guess it would have been the elections of 1994, that's when the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and elected Newt Gingrich as speaker and one of the issues that they talked about was the death penalty. 
    •  HALL: And I think that they used it very much as a political wedge, and they succeeded in de-funding the Resource Center program, which really operated as a grant from the United States Office of Court Administration, and funded twenty independent resource centers in states with very active death penalties.  And the Resource Center's primary job is to recruit pro-bono counsel to handle federal habeas, post-conviction review of death sentences, 
    •  HALL: I think the entire program was about twenty million dollar program and very supported by bar leaders, in Texas by leaders of the Texas State Bar, and in other states and by leaders of the American Bar Association, as well as by judges, federal judges, and even by members of the Supreme Court who saw it as a cost-effective way to provide attorneys in death penalty cases. 
    •  HALL: And at the time there was a real crisis in finding attorneys who would handle the cases. 
    •  HALL: So the Republican Congress in 1995 did away with that program beginning in the 96-97, I guess that's right, fiscal year and I think as a result, the courts actually ended up spending moremoney to recruit counsel. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: And can you also talk about, a little bit more about what your role or what you do. You briefly talked about what you do now with the….I know it's mainly advocating for the moratorium and the death penalty and maybe what led to starting this project. And then if you can talk about, you've really kind of outlined a lot of the problems that you saw, kind of in the chaos after they reinstated the death penalty and that we still see today. But are there any issues that are really troubling to you, that have come up through your experience or anything in particular? 
    •  HALL: Yeah, let me just make a note so I don't forget here….. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Uh-huh. 
    •  HALL: The Texas StandDown Project was started in the summer of 2000 and at the time, there was a reappraisal of the death penalty that was just beginning in the nation. 
    •  HALL: Several years earlier the American Bar Association had passed a resolution calling on jurisdictions with the death penalty to halt, to have a moratorium, until those jurisdictions adopted standards for the appointment, performance, and compensation of defense counsel in death penalty cases. 
    •  HALL: At the same time, some foundations that were involved in criminal justice were looking at the moratorium effort and states. And one of those funders came forward and wanted to do some work in Texas. 
    •  HALL: And so a steering committee was formed and the StandDownTexas Project was organized in the summer of 2000. And I was asked to direct it. 
    •  HALL: One of the things that we did very quickly was to develop legislation in consultation with several legislators. 
    •  HALL: One of those proposals was to give the Governor of Texas clear authority to impose a moratorium and that was sponsored in the House by State Representative Elliott Naishtat of Austin and State Senator Elliot Shapleigh of El Paso. 
    •  HALL: It was just in that same year that the Governor of Illinois, George Ryan declared a moratorium in Illinois and appointed a "blue-ribbon" commission to look at that state's application of the death penalty. 
    •  HALL: And Texas of course even then was far and away the most active execution chamber in the nation and at that time was executing something in the order of thirty to forty people a year to death. 
    •  HALL: So the project started with that premise, of trying to give the governor moratorium authority. 
    •  HALL:  Unlike most states, Texas has a very weak constitutional governor and does not have the authority to impose a moratorium as governor Ryan did. 
    •  HALL: We also developed a proposal for a study commission that was endorsed in 2005 by the State Bar of Texas and part of its legislative agenda for that year. 
    •  HALL: We have also been involved in public education. We worked with Texas Defender Service, Texas Apple Seed, Texas Innocence Network, in developing proposals for clemency reform in Texas, and a report was issued,  The Role of Mercy, and that report is available on our website. 
    •  HALL: It was issued in 2005 and it looked at best practices in the field of executive clemency and again that is one of the problems, one of the systemic problems in Texas' application of capital punishment that really has not met its historic responsibilities. 
    •  HALL:  We have seen extremely insufficient clemency review by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and by the Texas governor so … 
    •  HALL: We continue to do public education. 
    •  HALL: We work with other organizations on indigent defense reform. 2000 saw really landmark legislation sponsored by State Senator Rodney Ellis that created the Texas Fair Defense Act that for the first time imposed minimum standards on the appointment of counsel in Texas criminal cases. 
    •  HALL: It also, critically, for the first time put state money into indigent defense in Texas. 
    •  HALL: Prior to that legislation, all indigent defense was funded by the individual counties and you really can't even say we had a system because every county handled it differently. In fact, virtually every criminal court handled it differently. 
    •  HALL: So, that was a major reform that in the succeeding years has continued to blossom and a lot of credit goes to the Task Force on Indigent Defense, the entity established by the Fair Defense Act to implement the law and to issue guidelines for grant funding and to help develop models to more efficiently, more effectively deliver indigent defense criminal justice services. 
    •  HALL: So that has really been a bright spot in Texas criminal justice that the task force has used its authority to develop new models in cooperation with local governments and as a result we have more than a dozen public defender offices -- 
    •  HALL:  -- some specialized, such as the Mental Health Public Defender in Travis County, some specialized such as the West Texas Regional Capital Public Defender that encompasses over eighty counties in West Texas. 
    •  HALL: So, it's really been an innovative of indigent defense delivery services and that's, that's a real bright spot. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I'm curious, did you ever have any personal contact, any relationships with anybody on Death Row, whether letter-writing, or have you ever visited for anybody or… 
    •  HALL: ..in? 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: Kinda followed a particular case? 
    •  HALL: Yes. In cases where I have worked with legal counsel I have visited with a number of Death Row inmates, generally by telephone, sometimes in conference calls with legal counsel to examine their cases and that's been my involvement. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I'm not sure how in-depth your involvement was in actually getting to know the inmates on Death Row in a personal level but what was your experiences, do you have any thoughts as to the realizations on what these people are going through?  Or how are your feelings interacting with them? 
    •  HALL: Well, it was a professional relationship. And one of the things is that they are people, and I think that attorneys who represent Death Row inmates understand that and sometimes possibly aside from family members, they may be some of the few people who see and appreciate an individual that a lot of people view through the lens of the worst thing that they did in their lives, sometimes the worst minute of their lives. 
    •  HALL: And, I think of one case, that I was not involved with, an individual named Johnny Joe Martínez, this was a case out of Corpus Christi. 
    •  HALL: He, after a lot of alcohol, again, went to a convenience store to steal beer, ended up killing the clerk. 
    •  HALL: When that happened, he really sorta snapped I think, was aware of what he had done, called the police, waited there, and was very upset when the person died. Expressed remorse from the very beginning. 
    •  HALL: And again, here you have a case that was probably not the worst of the worst. He had taken someone's life, but it was not a premeditated murder. He was prosecuted, death was sought, and he was sentenced to death. 
    •  HALL: Eventually, in a victim-offender mediation with his victim's mother, the mother after that wrote a letter to the governor and to the Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that his sentence be commuted to life in prison. 
    •  HALL: It wasn't. And Johnny Joe Martínez was executed, and like so many other cases, there you had a, there you had a case that ended in execution that in many jurisdictions would have never have been a death penalty case to begin with, and when you look at the facts, when you apply any sense of proportionality, you see there a case that -- where our state interests were not served in his death. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: (inaudible)… that's a sad story. I dunno, any other (inaudible, voice covered by Hall) 
    •  HALL: I think that, I think we pretty well covered it. 
    •  HINZ-FOLEY: I have, kind of have, just a question on whether or not you can, I mean, this project, calls for (inaudible) to specifically abolish the death penalty. Do you see there being a way to transform our system right now into the working system where we can we get rid of all the little hitches you, or huge hitches, you pointed out, that (inaudible) in (inaudible) when you go about the death penalty, is there any way that you see, it still being possible to have the death penalty by getting rid of, you know, making it a just system, where you know, where justice can actually be served? 
    •  HALL: Well, this project was established, to advocate for a more (inaudible), and specifically to be able to talk to supporters of the death penalty who understand we have a broken system, as well as opponents of the death penalty, who have been especially concerned that innocent people continue, to be exonerated, from the general prison population, as well as Death Row. 
    •  HALL: I think that in Texas, our work is clearly not finished. We have seen improvements, reforms, we've seen a growing awareness that there are problems in our criminal justice system that we can fix. 
     
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    Metadata

    Title:Interview with Steve Hall
    Abstract:Steve Hall is the director of StandDown Texas Project, which advocates "a moratorium on executions and a state-sponsored review of Texas' application of the death penalty." In Video 1, Hall describes the renewal of capital punishment in Texas, which he facilitated and witnessed in his capacity as Chief of Staff for Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox from 1983 to 1991. Texas executed thirty-six people during this period. Hall also draws on his experience, between 1993 and 1996, working for the Texas Resource Center, which was charged with both directly representing and recruiting pro bono lawyers to represent inmates on death row. In Video 2, Hall continues to discuss major issues in death penalty jurisprudence and politics. In Video 3, Hall identifies signs that the death penalty may be disappearing. This interview took place on January 28 and February 4, 2009 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
    Sequence:2 of 3
    Contributors:
    • Sabina Hinz-FoleyRole: Interviewer
    • Kimberly Ambrosini-BaconRole: Videographer
    • Students of the Introduction to Qualitative Research class (2009) taught by Dr. Janet Armitage, St. Mary's CollegeRole: Transcriber
    Date Created:2009/01/28 - 2009/02/04
    Languages:eng
    Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas
    Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--Austin
    Type of Resource:Moving image
    Genre:Interview
    Identifier:tav00009
    Rights:
      This electronic resource is made available by the University of Texas Libraries solely for the purposes of research, teaching and private study. All intellectual property rights are retained by the legal copyright holders. The University of Texas does not hold the copyright to the content of this file. Formal permission to reuse or republish this content must be obtained from the copyright holder.

     

    Continues with Video 3 of the TAVP Interview with Mr. Steve Hall.

    Return to TAVP Interviews