The Columbia Human Rights Law Review (HRLR) is proud to devote Issue 3 of Volume 43 to Los Tocayos Carlos by James S. Liebman, Shawn Crowley, Andrew Markquart, Lauren Rosenberg, Lauren Gallo White, and Daniel Zharkovsky. The Article presents the story of how the State of Texas executed Carlos DeLuna for a murder Carlos Hernandez likely committed.
Our treatment of this piece is a departure from our traditional policy of printing issues that feature a mix of scholarly articles and student-authored work. Ordinarily, HRLR publishes between two and five scholarly articles and roughly two to three student-written notes in each issue. However, it soon became apparent after its submission that this Article’s sheer length, scope, and depth merited an entire issue to itself. After careful consideration, the Editorial Board determined that the level of attention required to ensure that its contents met HRLR’s rigorous standard of accuracy and completeness warranted that we publish Los Tocayos Carlos in a single issue without additional articles. The gravity of the subject matter of the Article and the possible far-reaching policy ramifications of its publication necessitated this decision.
In order to enhance the narrative-style of the prose and provide an uninterrupted version of the Article that would be easily accessible to a non-legal audience, HRLR is publishing Los Tocayos Carlos in print version without footnotes or endnotes. Instead, at the conclusion of each Chapter of the Article (including the Foreword, Prologue, and Epilogue) we are including a source list that describes, in full citation form, the sources the authors used to research and write that section.
Accompanying the publication of this Issue is a website that features a version of Los Tocayos Carlos with standard footnotes. The web version of the Article contains approximately 3,434 footnotes, each reviewed thoroughly by several members of HRLR’s Staff and Editorial Board, which provide the reader with a fuller understanding of the basis for the authors’ factual assertions and inferences. Furthermore, the footnotes provide hyperlinks to view the cited sources, allowing readers to access, download, and view for themselves the original sources instantaneously. Additional materials provided by the authors are showcased on the website as well. Included on the website are video and audio taped interviews of individuals closely involved in the narrative, family trees, diagrams, timelines, and charts. These materials are designed to enrich readers’ understanding of the events leading up to and surrounding Wanda Lopez’s murder on February 4, 1983 and Carlos DeLuna’s execution on December 7, 1989. The web version of the article can be found on HRLR’s general website, www.hrlr.org.
On many occasions, The Bluebook failed to provide sufficient guidance on the proper method of legal citation for a range of the sources cited in this piece. These documents, such as handwritten police statements, medical reports, educational records, notes on unrecorded interviews, and state court trial documents, are unconventional sources for typical law review articles. As such, several of the editors on HRLR, along with the Article’s authors and research assistants, endeavored to create a uniform method of reducing these sources to appropriate legal citations that provide readers with clear but brief descriptions of the underlying documents. To the greatest extent possible, HRLR has maintained the uniformity of legal citation not only for individual documents but also for various categories of documents produced by the same individual or organization or in the same manner.
One final word regarding the substance of Los Tocayos Carlos. Since its establishment nearly forty-five years ago, HRLR and its sibling publications have been steadfastly committed to the advancement of social justice in the United States. Los Tocayos Carlos poignantly reveals how easily our legal system can fail to produce just outcomes even without the deliberate interference of individuals acting in bad faith and how the consequences of such failures can be irrevocable and, at times, fatal. The Article chronicles the murder of Wanda Lopez in Corpus Christi, Texas on February 4, 1983 and then traces the intersecting lives of Carlos DeLuna, who was ultimately convicted of murder and executed on December 8, 1989, and Carlos Hernandez, the likely culprit. In painstaking detail, the authors have identified the numerous missteps, missed clues, and missed opportunities that led authorities to prosecute Carlos DeLuna for the crime of murder, despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual, Carlos Hernandez, did. At a minimum, we hope that this breathtaking story will be an adequate answer to those who question whether it is possible that an innocent man has ever been executed for a crime he did not commit in the United States.
– 2011–2012 Editorial Board, Columbia Human Rights Law Review