and the clock. Photos by Scott Van Osdol Schwarzschild room. “We’re optimistic until the switch is pulled. That’s why we’re lawyers.” Eric Freedman is a very young not yet 30 very good lawyer. A large, owlish-looking man, very serious, who peers out at the world from behind brown, horn-rimmed glasses, he is a corporate litigation expert whose New York law firm has taken on without charge a number of capital punishment cases on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “He truly has a wonderful heart underneath that bluster and pomposity,” a former instructor at Yale says. She remembers him as a student volunteering much of his time and energy to prisoners’ right cases. On the Saturday night before Charlie Brooks’ execution date, Freedman spent two hours in Huntsville with his client, getting back to Austin at 3 Sunday morning. What follows is an account of Freedman’s last-day efforts in conjunction with John Duncan, Henry Schwarzschild, and perhaps a dozen attorneys from around the state to save Charlie Brooks’ life. They failed, after more than a week of working almost night and day. For the rest of us, however, their efforts and their arguments are instructive, for once again the death penalty is in our midst. With more than 1100 persons on death row around the country 172 in Texas and with many approaching the 10 DECEMBER 24, 1982 end of the appeals process, it is an issue we cannot ignore. In the words of Henry Schwarzschild, “It is a terribly important moral watershed for the people of Texas.” 6 6 HIS DIDN’T have to hap pen Eric Freedman is say ing as he hurries from the Pardons and Paroles hearing to the Capitol a block away. “It’s just that we got here too late. The public has been led to believe that there’s a small band of topnotch lawyers keeping the death penalty at bay. What they don’t understand is that we’re about to be overwhelmed. There are only five or six of us doing this kind of work; I don’t do this full time. There is triage going on. We are dancing on the edge of a 50-story building.” \(Freedman’s firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, had worked on five capital punishment cases in Texas prior to Brooks; in each of the five cases, the Freedinan, Duncan, and Schwarzschild enter the Capitol through a basement door and proceed to Austin Rep. Terral Smith’s office. Smith, a Republican, will be asked to intervene personally with the governor. With the Fifth Circuit Court’s refusal to grant a stay, the governor becomes a more crucial figure in this drama, standing as he does near the end of a tortuous process that began five years earlier and accelerated dramatically the day after Thanksgiving of this year. Charlie Brooks, Jr., was convicted of capital murder on Dec. 3, 1977 for the 1976 shooting death of Fort Worth mechanic David Gregory, a 26-year-old father of two children. Brooks’ codefendant Woodie Loudres was also convicted of capital murder, but his sentence was subsequently overturned. \(In a pleabargain arrangement, Loudres was then sentenced on Nov. 1, 1982, to forty years in prison. Brooks’ death warrant was Also in December, 1977, Fort Worth State District Judge Tom Cave turned down a motion for a new trial for Brooks. Brooks appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on a number of points, including improper jury selection. On June 6, 1979, the appeal was rejected, and Brooks’ conviction was affirmed. Brooks’ lawyer filed a motion for rehearing and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. On June 27, 1979, the motion for rehearing was rejected. On June 21, 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Brooks’ request for a review. Brooks’ attorneys filed a writ of challenging the constitutionality of the proceedings by which he was convicted.