LAMENTATIONS: On JOE JAMES (Execution Date: July 28)


Lamentations: On Joe James (Execution Date: July 28)


Joe Nathan James, Jr. killed Faith Hall in 1994.  There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about that.  However, doubt about guilt isn’t necessary to have doubt about the punishment.  The death penalty is abhorrently problematic and this case illustrates why…starkly.


For several years, James carefully kept transcripts, documents and potential evidence from his case with him in his cell.  Then one day…as he was out to court & their cells were being rearranged…guards threw all of these documents in the trash.  All the papers that could have potentially saved his life, were destroyed…some forever.  Such an action wouldn’t have had the enormous consequences that it did if James hadn’t had attorneys that were keeping up with his case.  Unfortunately, James decided to represent himself.


Can you imagine deciding to represent yourself in your own death penalty case?  From all sorts of rules to all sorts of appeals to all sorts of motions…there is no way that you could effectively represent yourself.  Who in their right mind would reject the only chance they might have?  We are aware of no one successfully overturning or even delaying their execution while representing their self.  Which brings forth another question…why do judges allow these inmates on death row to represent themselves?


Lastly, the Hall family has been very vocal about their wishes…. Consider these quotes from Faith Hall’s daughters, Terrlyn and Toni Hall and Hall’s brother, Helvetius Hall given to CBS 42 reporter Lee Hedgepeth.


“I don’t want it to go forward. We’re not God. The Governor is not God,”


“Taking his life is not going to bring Faith back…it ain’t going to make no closure for us.”


“We shouldn’t be playing God. An eye for an eye has never been a good outlook for life.”


Perhaps the greatest injustice in this case is that the wishes of the family are being completely ignored.  How can you declare that an execution is bringing about justice for a family when you are ignoring the wishes of a family?


Trashed papers.

Trashed chances on appeal.

Trashed wishes of the family.


The state seems likely to do it again…kill while calling the process fair when they have already stacked the deck.


We lament the senseless murder of Faith Hall.  We lament that Alabama is determined to execute Joe Nathan James, Jr.  We lament that we haven’t been able to abolish the death penalty yet.  We lament.


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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.


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