Lamentations: On Clarence Dixon

Lamentations: On Clarence Dixon

Lamentations is a series of short reflections derived from a reoccurring conversation that takes place before every scheduled execution in the United States between prominent abolitionists Death Penalty Action Executive Director, Abraham Bonowitz and the Convener of Clergy United Against the Death Penalty, the Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood.

Anyone who follows the implementation of the death penalty in the United States, knows that the final stages of every execution is filled with a variety of last second appeals. Sometimes appeals focus on the method of execution. Sometimes appeals revolve around the drugs. Sometimes appeals center on claims of new evidence. Regardless of the subject of the appeal, there is one goal…to delay the execution as long as possible. You see, the job of the appellate attorney is to keep their client alive. Some final appeals are more successful than others.

Take for instance, two recent cases in Texas.

Out of options, appellate attorneys David Dow and Jeff Newberry tried to appeal to perceptions of cruel and unusual punishment in their final arguments on behalf of Carl Buntion, “Having lived under a sentence of death for over three decades in a state which keeps its death-row prisoners in solitary confinement, Buntion has been punished to a degree exceeding that inflicted on anyone else outside of a very small number of death-row prisoners…No legitimate purpose for the death penalty would be served by carrying out his execution.” This appeal was not successful.

Not long before her execution, Melissa Lucio raised nine issues before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Of those, the court ruled that four of those issues are valid and sent the case back down to the trial court. Such legal action by her appellate attorneys saved Lucio’s life…and now she has a real chance of never being executed, and she may even be exonerated and freed via that appeal, or if the efforts of the campaign are successful in getting the charges against her dismissed without further litigation.

In the coming days, Clarence Dixon is scheduled to be executed. Presently, Dixon’s appellate attorneys are desperately trying to save their client’s life. Their primary argument was regarding Dixon’s severe mental illness. That was dismissed last week, so now their efforts are centered on the viability of the drugs to be used in the execution process. However, time is running out. Recently, U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa told Dixon’s attorneys, “I just do want to remind you that the window of opportunity here is closing…I do ask you to be mindful of that.” Will there be other types of appeals pursued in the coming days? Will that window of opportunity be filled to the max? Will they seek for the window to be expanded? Only Dixon’s attorneys know the answer to these questions. If they are doing everything they can to help their client, it seems like the answers to all such questions should be yes.

There are those who call these last-minute appeals stalling tactics. They’re right. Clarence Dixon’s attorneys are simply throwing everything they got up against the wall to see what will stick. We hope something does.

Urge Governor Doug Ducey to stop the execution of Clarence Dixon @

We lament the difficult life that Clarence Dixon has endured. We lament the senseless death of Deana Bowdoin. We lament for the victims of all of Clarence Dixon’s crimes. We lament that Arizona is executing Clarence Dixon. We lament that we haven’t been able to abolish the death penalty yet. We lament.

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