Georgia DA in a bind over Death Row Case

Larry Chisolm, the first Black district attorney of Chatham County, Georgia, has a problem on his hands with death row inmate Troy Davis...


Who shot Officer Mark MacPhail? Supporters of death row inmate say it was not Troy Davis, the man who was convicted for the slaying in 1989. As the LA Times reports, this circumstance has newly-elected DA Larry Chisolm in between a rock and a hard place. The first Black district attorney of Chatham County, Georgia is being pressured by the NAACP and others to review the case and interevene on behalf of Davis in light of witness recantations that began in 2000. The Georgia Supreme Court has denied Davis’ appeal, as has the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Davis’ attorneys have filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court, but call that appeal a “longshot.” Though no execution date has been set, that reality seems increasingly likely and as appeals processes run out, it also seems increasingly likely that Chisolm, a death penalty supporter, will have to address the matter publicly. Though he himself has declined to speak on the matter specifically until all other avenues have been exhausted, the prospect he faces is daunting: The first Black DA in Savannah must decide the fate of a Black man accused of killing a white police officer. Should he intervene on Davis’ behalf, he stands to lose conservative support as well as the support of the police force. If he does not, he stands to lose the support of the Black community, a voting bloc that was instrumental in getting him elected.