Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Texas Gun Violence Story with Some Interesting Twists

As I listen to those who make vile claims in support of their Islamophobia, like so many on the right speaking out of fear and ignorance, including those who are hysterical about the non-existent threat of sharia law, this should be a potent example of the reality of mainstream Islamic practice.  It is incidentally a commentary on Texas gun violence.  I have to wonder how easily the shooter obtained the gun, and if it was done legally or illegally.

from MSNBC, Crime and Courts

Attacker executed despite victim’s efforts to save him

Federal judge rejects novel bid to use 'victim rights' law to buy time for condemed

Brandon Thibodeaux for msnbc.com .

By Kari Huus Reporter
Image: Rais Bhuiyan
Brandon Thibodeaux for msnbc.com
Rais Bhuiyan launched a campaign to halt the execution of Mark Stroman, who shot him in the face during a 2001 rampage that left two other men dead. Bhuiyan made a last-ditch effort to win a stay using a novel argument based on the Texas Victims' Rights Bill.

The state of Texas executed convicted murderer Mark Stroman on Wednesday after rejecting the last move in a campaign to spare his life by a survivor of the former meth addict’s Sept. 11-inspired shooting spree.
Stroman was given a lethal injection of drugs and pronounced dead at 8:53 p.m. local time, Michelle Lyons, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman, said.
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with me," Stroman said, according to Lyons. "I am at peace. Hate is going on in this world, and it has to stop. One second of hate will cause a lifetime of pain. I'm still a proud American. Texas loud, Texas proud. God bless America, God bless everyone."
Dallas resident Rais Bhuiyan, one of three men shot by Stroman in 2001 — and the sole survivor — had lobbied for months for Texas to commute Stroman’s death penalty in favor of a life sentence without parole. The 37-year-old tech professional argued that his Muslim faith calls on him to forgive and seek mercy for Stroman, 41.
He made an unprecedented argument early Wednesday in an Austin court based on the Texas Victims Bill of Rights, requesting a stay of execution so that he can pursue his right to mediation with the offender — a move that could have postponed Stroman’s execution for months or even years.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the argument, but a late state court appeal by Bhuiyan in Austin delayed the execution, local media reported, citing The Associated Press.
The last-minute lawsuit — naming Gov. Rick Perry as a plaintiff — was an ironic twist on the state law, as “victims’ rights” are often invoked to justify harsh penalties for offenders.
“Plaintiff strongly desires mediation and reconciliation, and has for a long time,” the legal complaint said, alleging that the state never informed Bhuiyan of this right. “(His) own ability to reach a cathartic point in his own recovery depends very much on his being able to make full efforts to help Mark Stroman to reach his full potential, and to overcome the very negative lessons that he was taught as a child. … This will inevitable be a process that will take time."
Injury… outweighed
After several hours U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued an order denying a stay of execution, saying that the case had failed to meet several prerequisites that would give the federal court jurisdiction to intervene. Among them, Bhuiyan had failed to show “a substantial threat of irreparable injury if the injunction is not issued,” he said.
A ruling in Bhuiyan’s favor “would allow litigants to delay an execution indefinitely by filing a succession of requests for injunctive relief in unrelated civil actions mere days before an execution,” Yeakel wrote. “… Thus, the irreparable injury asserted by Bhuiyan — his claim of violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights statute being rendered moot — is outweighed by the damage to the operation of the criminal justice system as a whole that would result from this Court’s granting the request.”

Image: Mark Stroman
AP
Mark Stroman, who killed two men and wounded a third.
Human rights activist Rick Halperin, an ardent supporter of Bhuiyan, said the decision was disappointing but not surprising.
“It is now at long last painfully clear that there is no such thing in Texas as clemency for condemned inmates,” he said. “It is equally painful to realize that victims of violent crimes who speak on behalf of mercy and compassion are to be ignored or marginalized by the stalling of top appointed and elected officials.”
With just a few hours remaining before the execution, Bhuiyan’s attorneys said they would appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and to the Supreme Court.
Halperin was not optimistic about obtaining a stay of execution. "My gut reaction is that Mark Stroman will be put to death," Halperin said. "I'm just prepared for the worst."
Indeed, both courts rejected the appeals.
Shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Stroman shot three men working in Dallas area convenience stores who he believed were Muslims, in an apparent bid for vengeance. In addition to Bhuiyan, who was blinded in one eye, Stroman shot and killed Indian immigrant Vasudev Patel – for which he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death — and Pakistan-born Waqar Hasan.
Stroman’s defense attorney, Lydia Brandt, has argued that his initial defense team failed to adequately present evidence that could have ruled out execution. Court documents show Stroman suffered a childhood of neglect and abuse, followed by post-traumatic stress and a methamphetamine addiction —evidence that Brandt believes shows Stroman did not have the “condition of mind” that is required when handing out the death sentence.
But appeals along these lines, and on technical grounds, failed one by one.
Bhuiyan, who emigrated from Bangladesh and later became a U.S. citizen, has crisscrossed the state of Texas seeking support for his bid to spare Stroman’s life. He met with the local district attorney seeking support, but met with rejection. He requested a meeting with Stroman, who agreed, but did not receive a response to his request from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. His efforts to meet with the powerful Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles went unanswered.
Finally, on July 14, he filed his novel lawsuit arguing that his rights under the Texas Victims Bill of Rights were being violated.
Under the bill, victims are offered mediation with offenders as a means of personal closure. Preparations for the meetings typically require four to six months.
The lawsuit was first filed in state court, but at the first hearing on Monday, attorneys representing Perry and the other defendants, succeeded in getting the case moved to federal district court in Austin, then won a one-day delay — pushing it back to a slot just hours ahead of Stroman’s execution.

16 comments:

  1. Islamophobia, is not the issueJuly 22, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    Stroman shot and killed Indian immigrant Vasudev Patel – for which he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, he was not sentenced to death for attempting to murder Mr. Rais Bhuiyan, so he (Mr. Rais Bhuiyan) has no standing, justice was served.

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  2. Islamophobia IS an issue; it was the precipitating cause of the crime.

    What is remarkable here is that Mr. Rais Bhuiyan showed more mercy than the predominantly Christian native Texans.

    Further, given the procedural errors which would have mitigated execution, one could argue that both the sentence, and the treatment of the victim of Texas gun violence (which I'm sure the shooter felt was justified violence at the time) were miscarriages of justice.

    While Stroman was convicted of the murder of Patel, it was not clear from the article of what other crimes in this shooting spree he was or was not convicted.

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  3. "Islamophobia IS an issue..."

    So how is it an issue to the question of a stay of execution? So are you saying he should not be executed because he is an islamophobe or that he should be executed because he was an islamophobe?

    As the other commenter pointed out, the murderer was being executed for the death of Patel, not for his assault on Bhuiyan.

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  4. The post is not only about a stay of execution; it is about a crime and the outcome of that crime.

    It is about the revenge motive that led a Christian man to shoot innocent Muslims, trying to kill them.

    And it is about the one surviving Muslim, in keeping with his religious beliefs about forgiveness and the sanctity of life, trying to save a life instead of seeing someone else die, in this case doing so through filing a law suit and trying for a stay of execution to do so.

    If you see this ONLY as a story about a stay of execution, or even primarily one, then you are being deliberately obtuse and intellectually dishonest.

    It is a wonderful story about violent Islamophobia resulting in shooting deaths being countered with the greatest possible opposite, by the moderate, mainstream Muslim who was a victim of violent Islamophobia.

    This story has received far less attention than another story about religious intolerance, the Fort Hood Texas shooting; the trial of Nidal Hassan was scheduled today. An example of extremist violence, which some use to promote a misconception of Islam.

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  5. No one should be executed, not the convicted child-murderer by the state or the stealth burglar who gets caught climbing in your window by the home owner.

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  6. Making up issues out of whole clothJuly 22, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Islamophobia IS an issue; it was the precipitating cause of the crime.

    What is remarkable here is that Mr. Rais Bhuiyan showed more mercy than the predominantly Christian native Texans.


    Since this was a matter of law not religion, his islamaphobia did not help with the Christian Texas jury/court system, and he was executed anyway, because he murdered two people for no reason except his own irrational prejudices.

    So it seems that it was not an issue, justice being blind and all.

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  7. It doesn't appear to be particularly a decision made on the basis of law.......or didn't you read down all the way, to this:
    "Stroman’s defense attorney, Lydia Brandt, has argued that his initial defense team failed to adequately present evidence that could have ruled out execution. Court documents show Stroman suffered a childhood of neglect and abuse, followed by post-traumatic stress and a methamphetamine addiction —evidence that Brandt believes shows Stroman did not have the “condition of mind” that is required when handing out the death sentence."
    Texas consistently acts in disregard of their own laws, whenever they have the opportunity to execute people, with utter disregard for any argument to the contrary. At the same time, they are one of the most pro-(specifically Christian) theocratic states in the U.S., which DOES put a religious element into this decision.

    The stats about being execution happy in Texas?

    "Since the death penalty was re-instituted in the United States in the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision, beginning in 1982 with the execution of Charles Brooks Jr., Texas has executed (all via lethal injection) more inmates than any other state, notwithstanding that two states (California and Florida) have a larger death row population than Texas."

    Since 1976, Texas has executed 472 people, with another 334 on death row.

    The next highest number of executions in any state was VA with 108; they have 15 people on death row - for comparison.

    Texas is execution obsessed:

    "In nearly nine years as Texas governor, Rick Perry has never spared a life based on a claim of innocence and only once delayed an execution in such a case, according to a Chronicle review of public records, clemency statistics and information from the governor's office.

    During that same period, officials in other death penalty states granted clemency for humanitarian reasons at least 200 times — 171 based on questions of innocence in Illinois alone.

    Texas has executed 200 convicts under Perry's watch, but he has spared just one condemned man's life in a case in which he was not compelled to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court."
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6673053.html#ixzz1SqlaqUL4

    There is a strong argument that we are in far greater danger from Texas style Christian-driven law than from sharia law, as illustrated by this news article.

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  8. There is a strong argument that we are in far greater danger from Texas style Christian-driven law than from sharia law, as illustrated by this news article.

    Tell that to the citizens of Oslo Norway....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14252515

    —evidence that Brandt believes shows Stroman did not have the “condition of mind” that is required when handing out the death sentence."

    That does not make his victims any less dead, does it?

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  9. DG wrote:
    —evidence that Brandt believes shows Stroman did not have the “condition of mind” that is required when handing out the death sentence."

    Not Really wrote: "That does not make his victims any less dead, does it?"

    Nothing makes his victims any less dead; certainly all executing Stroman does is to make one MORE person dead. Unfairly, improperly, uncompassionately dead.

    Not executing Stroman would have complied with the existing laws more fully, and been far more just, which is the desideratum, not bogus arguments about resurecting the victims.

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  10. Not really, you seem a bit confused about the difference between justice and the rule of law, versus sham justice that is a transparent mask for simple vengence.

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  11. Well simply put you don't matterJuly 23, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    Not executing Stroman would have complied with the existing laws more fully, and been far more just, which is the desideratum, not bogus arguments about resurecting the victims.

    Executing him also complied with the existing laws..... and just because you want interfere with justice by claiming that you have standing because, you want to forgive him does not give you standing to stop his execution.

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  12. There was legitimate standing; he was one of Stroman's victims.

    He had a legitimate reason for asserting his rights as a victim; they were ignored.

    More key however, an argument which you 'simply' simplistically avoid answering is that there were multiple reasons why execution was not the appropriate sentence, why it did not comply with the sentencing guidelines of Texas:

    "Stroman’s defense attorney, Lydia Brandt, has argued that his initial defense team failed to adequately present evidence that could have ruled out execution. Court documents show Stroman suffered a childhood of neglect and abuse, followed by post-traumatic stress and a methamphetamine addiction —evidence that Brandt believes shows Stroman did not have the “condition of mind” that is required when handing out the death sentence."

    More than that, Texas ONLY commutes a sentence when compelled to by the SCOTUS, regardless of proof of innocence, regardless of the constraints of law. It is practicing vengence under the cover of claiming it is law, when it is NOT rule of law. Texas, oh-so-very Christian oriented Texas, governed by pseudo-Christian Governor Perry, is a very bloody, and rather less than rule-of-law state.

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  13. To further refine the sort of thinking about "state of mind" conditions.

    If Stroman was responsible despite being abused as a child and drug addled as an adult, then doesn't it just make sense that any sane, normal person who leaves a loaded, unsecured weapon laying around for someone else to use to kill others or themselves should face the same ultimate penalty. Hey, I ain't 'cusin' nobody of nothin, I'm just asking a question, here.

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  14. The fact that his surviving victim did not want his execution was a rare exemption to the rule. They usually want vengeance and try to dress it up as justice. But, it's nothing of the kind.

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  15. The fact that the victim's human compassion came from his religion should typify all three of the Abrahmic religions, not be the exception to the rule.
    It clearly does not typify the bloody way Texans practice their faith of Christianity, sadly.

    This is not the exception to the rule everywhere; it seems localized more to Texas.

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  16. Geeeezze give it a restJuly 24, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    There was legitimate standing; he was one of Stroman's victims.

    But funny enough not the one for which he was executed, so he has no standing to ask for clemency....

    While Stroman was convicted of the murder of Patel, it was not clear from the article of what other crimes in this shooting spree he was or was not convicted.

    You had to work that 127 IQ of yours overtime to put together that abortion of a sentence, He was put to death for the MURDER of Indian immigrant Vasudev Patel, that's it no one in Mr Patel's Family asked for clemency none was given....

    He could have visited Stroman on death row in the intervening 10 years, yet nothing.....

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