Justice John Paul Stevens’ Only Regret: Texas Death Penalty Vote

The retired judge says that his 1977 vote to reinstate the Texas death penalty isn't something he's proud of.

By Jorge Rivas Sep 29, 2011

In over thirty years on the Supreme Court, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he only regrets one vote: his 1976 Jurek v. Texas vote to reinstate the death penalty in Texas.

"I’ve thought over a lot of cases I’ve written over the years. And I really wouldn’t want to do any one of them over…With one exception," he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. "My vote in the Texas death case… I think that I came out wrong on that."

In his new book, "Five Chiefs," Stevens wrote that he regretted the vote "because experience has shown that the Texas statute has played an important role in authorizing so many deaths sentences in that state."

Stevens’ comments come at a time when the country is deeply reexamining its views on capital punishment in the wake of Troy Davis’ controversial execution.  More than a million people signed an Amnesty International petition to save Troy Davis from being executed. Just two weeks earlier, the audience at a Republican presidential debate erupted into applause when they heard the state of Texas has executed 234 death row inmates under Governor Rick Perry — a figure that’s more than any other governor in modern times.