We, the undersigned, strongly urge you to exercise your constitutional power to grant clemency to Kevin Cooper. The taking of any human life is an act that weighs heavily on all of society. It is an unbearable weight when an innocent man’s life is at stake. We are deeply troubled that the State of California “may be about to execute an innocent man,” as five judges of the Ninth Cir-cuit Court of Appeals said in reference to Mr. Cooper in 2009. (See Cooper v. Brown, 565 F.3d 561.)
We are furthered troubled that these federal appellate judges found several serious constitutional violations in Mr. Cooper’s prosecution, including that prosecutors: (1) presented false evidence at trial, (2) destroyed evidence so that the jury never saw it, and (3) withheld exonerating evidence from the defense. (See id.)
Moreover, we are mindful that in 2009 six additional federal appellate judges wrote that they ab-horred the “flawed” proceedings in Mr. Cooper’s case, noting that such proceedings undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system. (Id. at 635.)
In addition, we note that a twelfth federal appellate judge stated in 2007 that she felt procedurally barred from ruling in favor of Mr. Cooper, and complained of “lingering doubt” in his case and the “wholly discomforting” feeling resulting from her inability to rule in Mr. Cooper’s favor. (Cooper v. Brown, 510 F.3d 870 at 1004-06.)
Additional evidence favorable to Mr. Cooper has emerged since these appellate judges wrote their opinions. In view of that evidence, in September 2015 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an agency of the Organization of American States, issued a report on Mr. Cooper’s case finding that Mr. Cooper’s human rights were violated in multiple ways in his pros-ecution, trial and sentencing. The IACHR found eight (8) separate ways in which Mr. Cooper’s due process rights were violated. It also found that his defense counsel was ineffective, that he was subject to an unfair appellate process, and that there was substantial evidence that racial discrimination played a part in his conviction and death sentence. In conclusion, the IACHR rec-ommended that before he is executed Mr. Cooper’s case be reviewed in accordance with his right to a fair trial.
Please act to grant Mr. Cooper clemency in the form of a reprieve of his death sentence while your office undertakes the thorough review of his case that the IACHR recommended. When that review is completed, please pardon Mr. Cooper as an innocent man. If there are any doubts in your mind after that review as to Mr. Cooper’s innocence, please conditionally grant Mr. Cooper a pardon unless the State retries him at a fair trial. Please take these steps now, before the State of California engages in the irreversible and unconscionable act: the execution of an innocent man. .
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