Death Penalty Action
4 min readJun 17, 2020

With less than an hour before his scheduled execution, Ruben Gutierrez received a stay of execution from the US Supreme Court. Thank you for taking action! Below is a statement from Shawn Nolan, one of Mr. Gutierrez’s attorney.

You helped overwhelm Governor Abbott’s office with phone calls yesterday and today, yet still the governor chose not to act. We will continue to build pressure on Governor Abbott to lead in these cases.

Death Penalty Action hosted an impromptu live conversation on our Facebook page this evening. We discussed the Gutierrez case, and also the new execution dates announced last night for four federal death row prisoners. Jessica Hawkey, Rob Dunham, Wana Akpan, Emma Tacke, Magdaleno M. Rose-Avila and Bill Pelke joined Abe Bonowitz for a fascinating, informative and empowering conversation​. Even if you don’t have Facebook, you can watch here​.


Following is a statement from Shawn Nolan, one of Mr. Gutierrez’s attorneys:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution based on Ruben Gutierrez’s challenge to TDCJ’s change of the longstanding practice, upheld in both federal law and constitutional law, of allowing prisoners to have spiritual advisors in the chamber during executions. As a devout Catholic, Mr. Gutierrez’s faith requires the assistance of clergy to help him pass from life into afterlife. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice changed its policy for its own convenience, but spiritual comfort at the time of death is not a convenience; it’s a protected legal right.

Mr. Gutierrez’s case is also gravely concerning because of the urgent need to test the DNA evidence in his case. For years, Mr. Gutierrez has sought such testing in order to prove he did not commit the crime for which he was sentenced to death. The state has fought such testing at every turn, but surely the public interest would be best served by allowing DNA testing while the Court considers Mr. Gutierrez’s case, in order to prevent a wrongful execution in the future.”

​ — Shawn Nolan, Attorney for Ruben Gutierrez; Chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania -June 16, 2020

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Thank you.

PS: Save the Dates — see below…

SAVE THE DATES — June 29, 30, July 1 & 2

Coming up two weeks from today is the 27th Annual Starving’ for Justice: The Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty. A preview discussion was featured yesterday on Voices of Experience on the Death Penalty (watch here).

Due to the pandemic, all programming will be virtual via Zoom and broadcast on the Starvin’ for Justice and partner Facebook pages. During the day and in the evenings, we’ll host interviews, panel discussions, musicians, artistic readings and at least one film screening. Those who register in advance will receive access to special programming just for Starvin’ for Justice participants.

Confirmed speakers and programs include:

  • Panel Discussion & keynote: Extra-Judicial Executions in the United States
  • The Death Penalty Information Center’s Rob Dunham
  • The Julius Jones Campaign
  • The Rodney Reed Campaign
  • The Kevin Keith Campaign
  • Meeting the needs of murder victim family members
  • Journey of Hope… From Violence to Healing speakers
  • Witness to Innocence speakers
  • Panel: Religion & the Death Penalty
  • State reports, including Virginia, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and many others
  • Tessie Castillo and co-authors of Crimson Letters
  • Panel: Former Executioners
  • Film Screening & Talk Back: In the Executioners Shadow
  • And much more! Full Schedule to be Announced by June 25th.

Please join the sponsors with your sponsorship today. Co-sponsors as of June 12th include:

  • Amnesty International Group 213 — Raleigh, NC
  • Abraham & Isaac Bonowitz and Beth Wood
  • Zann Carter
  • Chuck Culhane
  • Death Penalty Action
  • Death Row Support Project
  • Dick Dieter and Maggie Louden
  • Doug Dunlop
  • Equal Justice USA
  • Gainesville Citizens for Alternatives to the Death Penalty — Gainesville, FL
  • German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
  • Bob Gross
  • Susan Gries
  • Andrea Hall
  • Viki Harrison
  • Mary Hendrix
  • Journey of Hope… from Violence to Healing
  • Kehilla Community Synagogue
  • Caroline Klam
  • Marianist Social Justice Collaborative
  • Dick and Eileen Melia
  • Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • National Benedictines for Peace
  • Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty
  • Bruce and Julie Pearson
  • People Against Executions (PAX) of the Open Door Community
  • Mrs. Nancy Scheaffer
  • Joanne Schwarz
  • South Dakotans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.
  • Scott Taylor
  • Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty — in honor of the Reed Justice Initiative
  • Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • Dina Windle
  • Witness to Innocence
  • Anonymous from North Carolina

Join the sponsorship list today, here.

And we must renew and redouble our efforts to change our world. Sign petitions to oppose other upcoming executions here.

PS: Like what we do? Help make it happen with your donation today, here!



Death Penalty Action

Death Penalty Action provides high visibility resources, leadership and support in order to stop executions.