As he walked across the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., last week, you could almost see the anxiety lift from attorney Rob Owen's shoulders. He had just finished telling the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court why his client, Texas death row inmate Henry “Hank” Skinner, deserved another shot at getting DNA evidence in his case tested. In an interview with the Tribune that day, Owen described the pressure of standing before the high court to argue for another man's life.
It was the third time that the co-director of the University of Texas School of Law Capital Punishment Center presented oral arguments to the Supreme Court in a Texas death penalty case. He talked about how the state that hands down the death penalty more than any other has influenced capital punishment law through cases at the high court. And he explained why he could be standing in front of the Supreme Court again on Skinner's behalf — even if DNA testing shows that the convicted murderer is actually innocent.