Tonight, unless Governor Goodhair suddenly suffers a spasm of common sense, will not be one of Texas' finest hours.
Unless the legal system comes to its senses, Texas will execute Delma Banks Jr. this evening.
It will be a minor historical moment in Texas' bumptious, assembly-line approach to capital punishment, as Banks will be the 300th Texas inmate to die at the hands of the state since executions resumed in 1982.
But it will be a major step in the state's determined effort to ignore or wish away monumental problems with capital punishment (not to mention the institutional moral depravity involved), as the Banks case is a primer in prosecutorial misconduct and procedural nightmares.
Banks is black and the young man he was convicted of shooting to death in Bowie County in 1980 was white -- as was every member of the jury. Banks' attorney during the guilt and punishment phases of his trial was a former district attorney whose performance, as described in appeals documents, could charitably be called lackadaisical. Do you really need to know any more?
If you discount the perfidy of the Bowie County District Attorney's office, the inept defense that was mounted on Banks' behalf, and the racially discriminatory composition of the jury, you could argue that justice was done. The reality, though, is that justice hasn't been done. I cannot speak to whether Banks is innocent of this crime or not. What does seem clear is that Banks has been victimized by a system more concerned with convictions and efficiency than justice. What is so wrong with revisiting this issue before the state kills Banks and removes any possbility that justice can be done?
If nothing changes between now and 6pm tonight, Texas will conduct it's 300th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982. Yes, it's just another brick in the wall- except that this is a man's life hanging in the balance. He may be a despicable human being, but if we're going to kill him, we need to be certain he was afforded every opportunity to mount an effective defense. Based on the history of Banks' case, no one can believably make an argument that justice has been done. Delma Bank's Jr. is about to be murdered by the state of Texas in the name of political expediency. Frontier justice lives.