At a hearing tomorrow, Dallas County, Texas officials are expected to announce that DNA evidence has cleared Johnnie Earl Lindsey of a rape for which he has served 26 years in prison. Lindsey would become the 20th person exonerated in Dallas County, where District Attorney Craig Watkins (see my interview with him here) is actively working with innocence activists to seek out and overturn wrongful convictions.
Watkins also recently announced that his office will now take a look at all pending death row cases originating in Dallas County. Dallas-area journalist Trey Garrison notes that Watkins’ announcement triggered this curious reaction from a former prosecutor:
Toby Shook, who sent several people to death row while he was a Dallas County prosecutor, said Mr. Watkins was imposing an unnecessary new level of review and a hardship on victims’ families.
"Perhaps he hasn’t thought this through, but essentially what he’s saying is, ‘There is one more court of appeal and that’s me,’ " said Mr. Shook, who was defeated by Mr. Watkins two years ago. "That’s going to be devastating to a [victim’s] family."
Perhaps. But I would hope the families of murder victims would prefer that the correct person be executed for the crime, not just any person.