Gray was killed by bleeding in her small intestine. It is an extremely painful wound that slowly
fills the victim with toxic fluids. The prosecution’s hypothesis was that Jones may have caused
the injury to Gray within a time span of four hours during the time he was taking treatment of her
on the morning of May 1st the 1st of 1994. Gray passed away about 12 hours after.
This theory doesn’t have any logic medically. Gray’s injuries could cause her death slowly and
shouldn’t have been fatal within just 12 hours. In an extensive report looking at all the facts
against Jones, The Intercept Liliana Segura cites three medical professionals who believe the
prosecution’s theories are wrong.
One of them, who Segura describes as a “renowned pediatric forensic pathologist,” claimed that
Gray’s wound “could not possibly have been inflicted on the day prior to her death.”
There are many other possible suspects. Gray’s mother Angela is one of them. Angela was later
found guilty of abuse by a child and sentenced to eight years of prison. There is evidence that
Gray’s brother sexually pounced on girls who were just beginning to develop. On top of everything else, Gray reportedly said shortly prior to her passing that she was killed because a
child struck her in her stomach with a bar made of metal.
The truth is that no reasonable jury, confronted by all this evidence, could be able to conclude
that Jones was innocent beyond an acceptable doubt.
But Jones’s lawyers did not give crucial evidence at the trial. According to Justice Sonia
Sotomayor wrote in an opinion issued this morning, “Jones’ trial counsel failed to undertake
even a cursory investigation and, as a result, did not uncover readily available medical evidence
that could have shown that Rachel sustained her injuries when she was not in Jones’ care.”
After that, when Jones protested his verdict in an appeals court case which he lost, he was
confronted with the words of Sotomayor, “another egregious failure of counsel.”
According to statute, Jones was denied his constitutionally protected right to efficient assistance
from counsel twice.
However, Sotomayor wrote the following words in a dissident opinion. In a vote on a party-line
on Shinn V. Ramirez, the Court decided that Jones won’t get an equal trial despite his lawyers’
(The Ramirez case is called “Ramirez” and not “Jones” because the Court also ruled on the
same case in David Ramirez, who was sentenced to be executed despite clear evidence that he
was mentally disabled, and therefore unable to receive the death penalty under this Court’s
ruling in Atkins v. Virginia (2002). The Court’s decision on Monday will most likely mean that
Ramirez is not eligible for another sentencing hearing to determine if he’s mentally disabled.)
Justice Thomas’s major decision claimed that a law limiting the authority of federal court judges
to throw out verdicts made in state courts prohibits Jones to seek relief. But Thomas’s
interpretation of the law is a first as his decision had to overturn two relatively new Supreme
Court decisions to deny relief to Jones.
Jones could have gotten another trial had there had not been changed to
the law by the Supreme Court hadn’t changed the law.
On Monday the Supreme Court’s rulings on Martinez v. Ryan (2012) and Trevino v. Thaler
(2013) ought to have given Jones the opportunity to get a fresh trial. Both decisions address
what happens in the rare situation that an accused of committing being guilty receives unhelpful
assistance from counsel two times.
In the case of Strickland v. Washington (1984) 1984, the Supreme Court held that a conviction is
invalid when the defense “counsel’s performance was deficient” and if the “deficient
performance prejudiced the defense.” This protection against constitutionally ineffective legal
representation would be useless when people who had ineffective assistance from counsel
during trial could not contest the verdict whether on appeal or in any other instance.
Martinez and Trevino determined that a person who is convicted of a crime should have at least
one chance at contesting their conviction because they did not receive effective assistance from
counsel during the trial. States have plenty of flexibility to determine the kind of procedure that
will be used to determine inadequate assistance claims, but they are not able to deny any kind
of procedure altogether.
If a state does not provide those who are convicted with the opportunity to contest their
conviction due to an ineffective aid basis, federal courts could intervene and create a venue to
hear the case in what is called the “habeas” proceeding. Martinez Furthermore, Martinez has
established the fact that federal courts are able to intervene in cases where a criminal defendant
does not receive adequate assistance from counsel both during their trial as well as in a
state-wide proceeding, allowing the defendant to contest their conviction.
A federal trial court as well as an appeals court decided that this was exactly what occurred to
Jones which is that neither his state trial lawyers nor the attorneys who represented the post
conviction defense did enough to investigate the facts of his case. In the absence of the
evidence that proves Jones is innocent, The judge from the state court in charge of this post
conviction hearing was unable to determine the reason why Jones’s conviction shouldn’t be
A federal court had its own evidentiary hearing. It looked at the evidence in favor of Jones along
with the testimony that showed his lawyers did not follow through on their case and then
ordered that the State of Arizona grant Jones a fresh trial.
According to the court’s ruling, it was a “reasonable probability that the jury would not have
unanimously convicted [Jones] of any of the counts” If Jones’s defense attorney was able to
“adequately investigated and presented medical and other expert testimony to rebut the State’s
The decision of Monday on Ramirez doesn’t specifically abjure Martinez or Trevino However it
does state that, as Sotomayor states in her dissent “the Court all but overrules” these two
rulings “that recognized a critical exception to the general rule that federal courts may not
consider claims on habeas review that were not raised in state court.”
In Justice Thomas’s majority decision, federal courts are able to hold habeas hearings when a
criminal suspect claims that they were not provided with adequate counsel two times, however,
the federal court cannot take into consideration any evidence that was not provided in prior
proceedings. As Justice Thomas states, “if a prisoner has ‘failed to develop the factual basis of
a claim in State court proceedings,’ a federal court ‘shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on the
claim’ unless the prisoner satisfies one of two narrow exceptions” which do not apply to Jones’s
The issue with this rule is evident. The entire point of Jones’s federal court case lies in the fact
that the state court lawyers acted badly that they were unable to find evidence that should have
cleared the defendant. If a federal court will only take into consideration evidence presented by unprofessional attorneys to the state court, there’s no need for the federal habeas process in the
Thomas and Sotomayor have completely different opinions on the reason
criminal trials are necessary
“The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to the effective assistance of
counsel at trial,” Sotomayor states in the first paragraph of her Dissent. She goes on to say she
believes that “this Court has recognized that right as ‘a bedrock principle’ that constitutes the
very ‘foundation for our adversary system’ of criminal justice.”
In Sotomayor’s head as well as in the minds of two justices chosen in the past by Democratic
presidents who also endorsed her view, the goal of an investigation into criminal conduct is to
determine if an individual is really committed a crime and to determine that by a process of
adversarial trial that is represented by both sides by lawyers who are able to provide the most
convincing legal and factual argument for both the prosecution and defense.
Thomas, who is writing in the court’s Republican majority, provides an alternative explanation for
the reason trials are necessary. Thomas considers federal habeas trials unjust since the courts
“override the States’ core power to enforce criminal law.” If a federal court declares a
conviction is constitutionally unjust, Thomas complains, it “overrides the State’s sovereign power
to enforce ‘societal norms through criminal law,'” and “disturbs the State’s significant interest in
repose for concluded litigation.”
In Thomas’s opinion, the goal of state-run trials is to allow criminal defendants an opportunity to
appear before a state court. However, once the trial is completed the court’s decision generally
must be final even if it involves executing an innocent victim or convicting someone for violating
the rights or in contravention of the Constitution.
This is in line with Thomas’s position for a long time. Since Herrera v. Collins (1993), Thomas
joined an opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia, which declared that there was “no basis” in the
Constitution for “a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of
innocence brought forward after conviction.” At the time, Thomas was the only justice to join
Scalia in this viewpoint.
However, Thomas has the votes to win on an extremely conservative Court which is why the
overwhelming arguments to show that Barry Jones is innocent were considered insignificant. At
his first hearing, Jones faced a tribunal that bore at a minimum appearance of a fair trial. Under
Thomas’s method, it is irrelevant that Jones probably never killed anyone is not relevant.