Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mox Soffar arraignment set for today

Max Soffar, who has an unusually strong claim of innocence and whose death sentence AND conviction were thrown out by the federal courts, is in a Harris County courtroom today. The Harris County District Attorney's office apparently really is going to retry him for capital murder. We will continue to follow this case closely.

In the interim, here are excerpts from an article that just popped up in, of all places, the Jerusalem Post. The article is written by Kinky Friedman, the author/musician and, more recently, the quixotic independent candidate for Texas governor. This is weird, even by Texas standards:

Max Soffar: A Jew on death row


...Max doesn't have a lot of time and neither do I, so I'll try to keep it
brief and to the point.

"I'm not a murderer," he told me. "I want people to know that I'm not a murderer. That means more to me than anything. It means more to me than freedom."

...Somewhere along the line, Max's life fell between the cracks. A sixth-grade dropout whose IQ tests peg him as borderline mentally retarded, he grew up in Houston, where he was a petty burglar, an idiot-savant car thief and a low-level if highly imaginative police snitch.

...For the past 23 years, since confessing to that triple homicide, Max has been at his final station on the way: the Polunsky Unit, in Livingston, Texas. But he long ago recanted the confession, and many people, including a number of Houston-area law enforcement officers, think he didn't commit the crime. They say he told the cops what they wanted to hear after three days of interrogation without a lawyer present. At the very least, they say, Max's case is an example of everything that's wrong with the system.

...Another observer troubled by Max's case is Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Harold R. DeMoss Jr., who wrote in 2002, after hearing Max's last appeal, "I have lain awake nights agonizing over the enigmas, contradictions and ambiguities" in the record.

Chief among these Kafka-esque elements is the fact that Max's state-appointed attorney was the late Joe Cannon, who was infamous for sometimes sleeping through his clients' capital murder trials. Cannon managed to stay awake for Max's, but he did not bother to interview the one witness who might have cleared him. There are, incidentally, 10 men on death row who were clients of Cannon's.

...[T]here was no physical evidence linking Max to the crime. No eyewitnesses who placed him at the scene or saw him do it. Two police lineups in which Max was not fingered. Missing polygraphs. If the facts had been before them, Schropp says, no jurors would have believed that the prosecution's case had eliminated all reasonable doubt.

"When you peel away the layers of the onion," he says, "you find a rotten core."


To read the entire article, go here.

2 comments:

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marina65 said...

I just found this now and what I have to say is that unfortunately Max Soffar still is on death row. An innocent man and since almost 30 years in a place like that. It is so inhuman. I hope that soon the time will come that he finds the justice that he has not yet found. It is so obvious that he is innocent. May God bless him and help him to find the judges who see the truth!