George Bush Jr., the governor of Texas and the man who can prolong the life of an Albertan on death row, said in a statement yesterday that the courts have ruled that Joseph Stanley Faulder had a fair trial.
"Governor Bush assures the people of Canada that the courts have ruled that Mr. Faulder had a fair trial, ample opportunity to be heard and the full protections of the constitution and laws of the United States of America," said Linda Edwards, the governor's deputy communications director.
Mr. Faulder, 61, is set to be strapped into a gurney and killed by lethal injection in a prison in Huntsville, Texas, on Dec. 10, the 4th execution scheduled for that week, and the 1st Canadian to be put to death in the United States in 46 years.
The momentum to save Mr. Faulder's life is building in Canada as everyone from former death row inmates to the Canadian government rallies to his defense.
Canada is expected to file a 60-page legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court today in an effort to win clemency for Mr. Faulder.
The brief supports Mr. Faulder's last-ditch clemency petition, which will be presented by Sandra Babcock, his American lawyer.
Lloyd Axworthy, the foreign affairs minister, has already written letters to Madeleine Albright, secretary of state, and to Mr. Bush, pleading for Mr. Faulder's clemency.
In his letter to Mr. Bush, Mr. Axworthy said that the
Canadian government is "most disturbed" by the breach of the Vienna Convention
on Consular Relations and urged Mr. Bush to grant a 30-day reprieve to
temporarily halt an execution and to request the Texas Board of Pardons
and Paroles to review the case. Texan authorities did not notify
the Canadian government about Mr. Faulder's arrest and trial, undermining
his right to a fair trial, said Sophie Legendre, foreign affairs
But Ms. Edwards said that discussions about whether or not the U.S. complied with international treaties "is a federal issue." She said Mr. Bush will not make a decision about whether to grant a 1-time delay until after the court process is complete . "He is waiting to see what the Board of Pardons rules and what the courts say," she said.
To convince Texan authorities to block the execution, the Toronto-based Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted is sending a delegation to Austin, Texas in early December to talk to Mr. Bush. The delegation includes Joyce Milgaard, whose son was imprisoned for almost 23 years for a murder he did not commit, and Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a former boxer who came close to dying in the electric chair in New Jersey for 3 murders he did not commit.
The association knows it has less than 3 weeks to make an impact, and will announce today others who may lend their names to the cause, including lawyers, politicians and other former high-profile clients of the association who have had their sentences overturned.
"We decided to take the case on because it's the death penalty and it's urgent," says James Lockyer, an association director. "Yes the momentum is building but it's got to build a whole lot more because it's Texas and they like killing people in Texas. If everything comes together, I think the chances are good."
Mr. Lockyer believes that the case doesn't center on whether Mr. Faulder is guilty or innocent of the crime he was convicted of -- murdering Inez Phillips, the 75-year-old matriarch of a wealthy Texas oil family. Mrs. Phillips was tied up and gagged on her bed, then stabbed in the heart with a kitchen knife during a bungled robbery in 1975.
Instead, Mr. Lockyer says the effort to save Mr. Faulder
focuses on mistakes made in the judicial process, as well as on the violation
of the Vienna Convention which guarantees that foreign citizens accused
of crimes have the right to seek help from diplomatico fficials. The Canadian
government did not find out about Mr. Faulder's case until 1992, 15 years
after he was arrested.
Mr. Faulder's case has also been taken on by Amnesty International, and by the Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association, which is funding Mr. Lockyer's association.
In his letter to Mr. Bush, Mr Axworthy wrote: "The Government of Canada does not sympathize with violent crime and this letter should not be construed as reflecting a judgment on the guilt or innocence of Mr. Faulder. The policy...to seek clemency for Canadian citizens sentenced to death in foreign countries is based on humanitarian considerations."
Mr. Axworthy also noted that mitigating circumstances -- including Mr. Faulder's medical history and affidavits about his character -- were not presented at Mr. Faulder's sentencing that "might have convinced the jury not to pronounce the death penalty."
Mr. Faulder, a former mechanic from Jasper, Alberta, whose only sister still lives there, suffered a head injury as a child that damaged the part of the brain that controls judgment and impulse.
It has taken years for Mr. Faulder's case to wind its way through Texan courts. In 1977, he was tried and convicted on the basis of his confession to police.
In 1979, the Texas Appeal Court found that Mr. Faulder's
confession had been illegally obtained and ordered a new trial. For
the 2nd trial, Jack Phillips, the victim's son, used a provision of Texas
law to hire private prosecutors to pursue the case; they struck a deal
with Mr. Faulder's accomplice from the 1975 robbery, who was promised immunity
and up to $15,000, if she implicated Mr. Faulder. He was
convicted again in 1981.
Mr. Lockyer says that this aspect of the case -- having a rich man hire private prosecutors to convict an indigent one -- is grossly unfair. Private prosecutions are not normally tolerated in Canada; in Ontario, the Crown takes over private prosecutions, even the less serious ones.
Another controversial part of the case is the testimony of Dr. James Grigson, a doctor known as Dr. Death who has since been expelled from the American Psychiatric Association. At Mr. Faulder's sentencing, Dr. Grigson said that Mr. Faulder was a "sociopath of the severest kind" who would kill again. He had never met Mr. Faulder, and his testimony was later contradicted by defense psychologists who examined Mr. Faulder and found the crime to be an aberration of his usual personality.
"You have the use of a charlaton as an expert witness and the payment of witness and the ethics of private prosecution as the 3 reasons he deserves a new trial," says Mr. Lockyer.
5 execution dates have already been stayed in Mr. Faulder's case and he told Maclean's magazine in an interview last week that he is not counting on another reprieve. "Our legal battle is more or less over," he said. "It's pretty much in the hands of the governor of Texas and he's not noted for doing things like that."
But Mr. Lockyer believes that Mr. Bush's national political ambitions may play in Mr. Faulder's favour. "Bush is considering running for president...executing a Canadian won't endear him to the Canadian government," he said.
(source: National Post)