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economic matter, begin in earnest until an execution date is set; and, more important, that swipe misrepresents the truth: Bell’s petition was filed on October 7th a full week before the execution: in plenty of time for its merits to be considered. Judge Jones’s opinion offered two sets of reasons for denying Bell’s motion for a stay. One set is legal, the other procedural. The legal reasons turn on Jones’s argument that the Fifth Circuit is not required to stay an execution just because the Supreme Court has agreed, in a different case, to decide the constitutionality of an issue raised by the inmate. Further, Jones’s opinion emphasizes, and this is really a procedural point, Walter Bell could have raised the issue concerning the constitutionality of executing a retarded citizen back in 1987, when he challenged his earlier execution date. This is why it is important to remember dates: the Supreme Court did not agree to hear the Penry case until June of 1988. Of course it is true that Bell’s lawyers could have raised this issue in 1987; but must they be prescient? The Supreme Court had not yet given any indication that the they would consider the issue. Jones’s second set of reasons, and the ones that really seem to be driving her, are the procedural concerns. The tone of her opinion is outrage: outrage, to be sure, at the crime Bell was convicted of committing, but outrage as well at Bell’s counsel. Judge Jones was angry that death appeals drag on for so long, that lawyers do not raise issues sooner. She goes so far as to suggest that Bell’s lawyer was “playing chicken” with the executioner. The judge’s concerns are surely legitimate. Death appeals do take too long; lawyers sometimes abuse the process; judges are entitled to be a bit angry. But there is something terribly wrong when the conduct of Walter Bell’s lawyer prejudices the judges against Walter Bell. This is a man who could not represent himself if he wanted to. He depends on the generosity of a volunteer lawyer to represent him, and if that lawyer promises to file a petition by a certain date and then fails to follow might have done wrong. But should Walter Bell pay? Some will answer this question \(which suggest that lawyers will be encouraged not to delay when the consequences of their delay are their clients’ executions. Few, I think, will feel that way, but even those who do ought not to be persuaded that the Fifth Circuit’s action was defensible in this case, because in this case the Supreme Court had already acted. It had already said: wait a minute; this issue of executing retarded citizens is an issue we need to consider. Judge Jones’s rejoinder that the Fifth Circuit is not required to grant stays of execution to every inmate who raises an issue that the Supreme Court has agreed to review is not, in my judgment, a defensible jurisprudential view not even in the abstract. But it is a pernicious view in this case when the life of a man who is unquestionably retarded is at stake. One cannot help feeling that Judge Jones was punishing Walter Bell because his lawyer made her mad. Her opinion excoriates Bell’s New York counsel, intimating that he and others like him who abuse the system ought to be prohibited from practicing law in the federal courts of the Fifth Circuit. She goes so far as to compare the abuse of the system perpetrated by Bell’s BY RUPERTO GARCIA % “1 just puttin’ one foot in front a the other. . . . This here bearing went out. We didn’t know it was goin’ so we didn’t worry none. Now she’s out an’ we’ll fix her. An’ by Christ that goes for the rest of it! I ain’t gonna worry. I can’t do it. This here little piece of iron an’ babbitt. See it? Ya see it? Well, that’s the only goddamn thing in the world I got on my mind. . . . ” Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck IN THE SUMMER of the year, or when the season comes, as farmworkers begin to pack their belongings for migrant trips to waiting fields somewhere, they will not worry much about what awaits them other than work. They will not review the law books of the states whose borders they will cross; they will only generally know that in some states, they and their children will receive more protection from the law than in others; and they probably will know, more through experience than literature, that in some states, they will receive no protection at all. But it was to determine specifically what legal protections were being provided for agricultural workers by labor laws and regulations passed by the states, Puerto Rico, and the federal government that a study funded by the Department of Labor and researched by the Motivation, Education, and Training, Inc., office in Austin, was conducted. And, at least according to Brian Craddock, research director for MET, who conducted the two years of reading and summarizing of the protections afforded by every law he could determine affected agricultural workers, the main generality most workers already know Ruperto Garcia is a writer living in Austin. lawyer with the heinous crime Bell was convicted of committing \(murdering his former employer; he was also accused, but not convicted, of raping and murdering the her frustration, her outright anger at Bell’s counsel can be excused, even defended. Her willingness to let Bell suffer the penalty the death penalty cannot. If judges let their ire at the lawyers bias them against the lawyers’ unwitting clients, then perhaps they ought not to be judges at all. 0 has been confirmed: “In the eyes of the law, farmworkers remain second-class members of the labor force.” “In New Mexico, for instance, there is a statute making it a crime for most employers in that state to require an employee to work more than 16 hours in any one day,” Craddock wrote in a summary of his work. “And in Illinois, another law provides that ‘on or after May 1867,’ eight hours of labor ‘between the rising and the setting of the sun’ will constitute a ‘legal day’s work.’ But neither of those apply to farmworkers.” “The results leave little doubt,” Craddock wrote, “that wage earners in the farm sector today still have not reached legal parity with their non-agricultural counterparts.” Having divided each of the laws and regulations analyzed into the various standards they impose, he added that “among the employment standards broadly applicable to American workers laws dealing with child labor, job discrimination, workers’ compensation, minimum wage and overtime, to name only a few substantially less than half treat farmworkers like any other segment of the labor force.” “More than a fourth of the standards apply to agricultural workers under narrower coverage criteria than those prescribed for non-agricultural workers. And nearly one in three do not cover farm employment at all.” THE MET OFFICE in Austin is a small place: four rooms in all and three employees, situated in a building a block off Interstate 35, as it cuts through the city. This is the research plant for MET, Inc., a private non-profit corporation which operates the Department Farmworkers and the Law: Two Sets of Books 10 NOVEMBER 25, 1988