Davis, found guilty of killing an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga., in 1989, had his death row case temporarily stayed in three earlier instances, and the majority of witnesses who testified against him have since recanted their testimony.
But despite a case lawyers have for years been arguing was too weak to merit the death penalty, the fourth attempt to save Davis’ life has failed.
The case has been a slow and convoluted exercise in legal maneuvering and death penalty politics. It has included last-minute stays and a rare Supreme Court decision.
Because Georgia’s governor has no power to stay executions, the parole board was the last hope for Mr. Davis.
“I don’t see any avenues to the Supreme Court,” said Anne S. Emanuel, a law professor at Georgia State University who has formally reviewed the case and found it too weak to merit the death penalty. “There’s nothing else apparent.”
Or, is this final decree much along the lines that Joe Friday might say, "just the facts, m'am"?
From Jacques Ellul's prescient work in 1964: The Technological Society
Judicial technique is in every way much less self-confident than the other techniques, because it is impossible to transform the notion of justice into technical elements. Despite what philosophers may say, justice is not a thing which can be grasped or fixed. If one pursues genuine justice (and not some automatism or egalitarianism), one never knows where one will end. A law created as a function of justice has something unpredictable in it which embarrasses the jurist. Moreover, justice is not in the service of the state; it even claims the right to judge the state. Law created as a function of justice eludes the state, which can neither create nor modify it. The state of course sanctions this situation only to the degree that it has little power or has not yet become fully self-conscious; or to the degee that its jurists are not exclusively technical rationalists and subordinated to efficient results. Under these conditions, technique assumes the role of a handmaiden modestly resigned to the fact that she does not automatically get what she desires.
(The Technological Society, pp 291-292)