Why is Rodney still locked in a cell?

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed


By: Caitlin Adams

The only evidence the prosecution had, well, really didn't have, has been completely refuted by their only witness, former Medical Examiner Robert Bayardo.  Rodney's case sits on the desk of a federal district judge and because of the 1996 law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Anti-terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA); it is possible that the refutation may not meet the necessary threshold of relevance to matter. What?

In Magistrate Judge Austin's 82 page recommendation to deny Rodney's habeas writ, he took each new piece of evidence presented separately and ruled each piece essentially irrelevant.  There was no looking at all the new evidence as a whole.  Because of the AEDPA, Judge Austin was within the law to judge each piece of evidence separately. Huh?

The AEDPA makes it exceptionally difficult, if not virtually impossible, to get new evidence heard in habeas cases in the state courts. The state courts simply hide behind the AEDPA procedural requirements and stamp “deny” on anything that comes before them. When upon the state's denial the case then makes it to the federal courts, the federal courts most often uphold the state's findings without much more than a cursory review of the case, again hiding behind the AEDPA's procedural requirements.  What?

Does the AEDPA sound unconstitutional to you?  Sure does to me.  There have been several unsuccessful attempts to challenge different aspects of the AEDPA as unconstitutional.  What is so completely mind boggling is that this law essentially takes "innocent till proven guilty" and throws it out the window. If you have evidence that shows that the state did not "prove" your guilt, evidence that strongly suggests your innocence, it doesn't matter!  A petitioner has to prove his/her innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Huh?

That's why Rodney is still in a cell on death row.