Sure it's a NYTimes article. Still, if you get past the spin there are distressing facts here:
"In the Miller-El case, appellate lawyers and legal scholars are buzzing over what they say is the insolence of the Fifth Circuit.
In an 8-to-1 decision last year, the Supreme Court instructed the appeals court to rethink its "dismissive and strained interpretation" of the proof in the case, and to consider more seriously the substantial evidence suggesting that prosecutors had systematically excluded blacks from Mr. Miller-El's jury. Prosecutors used peremptory strikes to eliminate 10 out of 11 eligible black jurors, and they twice used a local procedure called a jury shuffle to move blacks lower on the list of potential jurors, the decision said. The jury ultimately selected, which had one black member, convicted Mr. Miller-El, a black man who is now 53, of killing a clerk at a Holiday Inn in Dallas in 1985.
Instead of considering much of the evidence recited by the Supreme Court majority, the appeals court engaged in something akin to plagiarism. In February, it again rejected Mr. Miller-El's claims, in a decision that reproduced, virtually verbatim and without attribution, several paragraphs from the sole dissenting opinion in last year's Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
. . . . .
'The Worst Court in Texas' was the ignominious verdict on the cover of the November issue of Texas Monthly, the state's glossy bible of style and politics. The target: the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
. . . . .
In another episode widely perceived as an embarrassment, Roy Criner, a prison inmate serving 99 years for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl that he insisted he had never committed, successfully petitioned for a DNA test not available during his trial. The test determined that the semen in the victim was not his. A second test produced the same result.
The trial court asked the criminal appeals court to order a new trial, but with Judge Keller prominently in the majority, it voted 6-3 to let the conviction stand. Gov. George W. Bush, then running for the White House, granted Mr. Criner clemency.
. . . . .
Last December [the 5th Circuit] considered the last-minute appeal of Billy Frank Vickers, scheduled to die for the killing of a grocer in 1993. With the inmate already given his last meal, the judges deliberated until 9 p.m. and announced they were leaving, with no decision. Bewildered state prison officials allowed the death warrant to expire, granting Mr. Vickers a delay. He was executed six weeks later.
. . . . .
In October, a Houston federal judge granted a last-minute stay to Dominique Green, but the state appealed. The Fifth Circuit then gave defense lawyers less than half an hour to file their response, Professor Dow said. A rushed brief was e-mailed to the court and turned down. The Supreme Court also rejected a stay, and Mr. Green was executed that night."