If you’re on our Facebook page, you probably saw this video, a very recent interview with Baby Bash by www.camcaponenews.com. He mentions that Carlos Coy’s appeal will by going to the high court, and also that they’re going to try for a reduction of sentence. While I’m not entirely sure whether he means the Supreme court, fifth circuit, or the TCCA, I’d guess he’s talking about the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court hears very few cases, but maybe he got his Writ of Cert (permission to appeal) approved, finally.
If that doesn't happen, and Coy decides to try for a reduction of sentence (commutation), what does that mean?
Although his conviction would still be considered correct, the sentence will be cut down, sometimes to equal time already served. These are not easy to get, but it could happen. To even apply for it, Coy would have to get two of the three ‘Trial Officers’ to agree that 45 years was too much time for the crime he was convicted of.
Those three Trial Officers are the District Attorney, the Harris County Sheriff, and the Judge of the court he was convicted in. In 2002, that would have been DA Chuck Rosenthal, Sheriff Tommy Thomas, and Judge Mark Kent Ellis. We already know what kind of man the DA was; Thomas instituted a policy of deleting departmental E-mails in January 2008, the same month Rosenthal got in such trouble for deleting thousands of subpoenaed emails. There will probably be another post about him later. After obtaining two or three of these recommendations, it goes to the Parole Board; if they approve it, it still has to get past the Governor's desk.
Anyway, in cases where the original people are no longer in their positions, you go with whoever is currently in power. I think that changes things a bit. SPM would have to get the approval of DA Pat Lykos, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, and once again, Judge Mark Kent Ellis.
We know that Pat Lykos has an interest in seeing justice done, even in post-conviction cases. Sheriff Garcia seems to have been pretty decent while in office. Judge Ellis is definitely a hard-ass, but some say he’s fair. So a commutation would be unusual, but not impossible.
I have to admit, I have extremely mixed feelings about the idea of a commuted sentence. On the one hand, this is not justice. This is not exoneration. Coy would still feel the effects of his mishandled trial. He would still have to register as a sex offender. The state would not have to admit they made a mistake.
On the other hand, he would be home with his family, able to continue his life, and presumably still fight his wrongful conviction from the outside. This is his choice to make. Hopefully the Dope House will let us know if we can support their efforts.