Clinton Young was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for two murders. According to court documents within 48 hours Clinton Young would murder two men in order to gain access to their vehicles. Clinton Young would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death however Clinton Young would be released in 2022 on bond while prosecutors decided whether or not to try him again
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Lawyers for Clinton Young, who is on death row after being convicted of capital murder in Midland, want a new trial because they said one of the prosecutors in the 2003 trial was also working for the district judge involved in the trial.
In an application for a writ of habeus corpus seeking relief from a judgment of death, Young’s attorneys wrote that the trial judge – the late John Hyde of the 238th District Court — overseeing Young’s conviction and death sentence employed then-assistant district attorney Ralph Petty as a judicial clerk while Petty also represented the state at Young’s trial and in the appeals process.
Young was sentenced to death in 2003 after he was convicted in Hyde’s court of the 2001 murders of Doyle Douglas and Samuel Petrey for the use of their vehicles. Douglas, 41, of Ore City was killed near Longview. Petrey, 52, of Eastland was kidnapped in his hometown and killed in an oilfield near Midland, according to the reports. The incidents occurred within a 48-hour period, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.
This is Young’s fifth post-conviction writ of habeus corpus, according to the Midland County District Attorney’s Office. Young was scheduled to be executed in 2017, but he received a stay of execution a little more than a week ahead of that October date. The TDCJ website doesn’t show that a subsequent execution date has been scheduled.
While the trial took place in 2003, it wasn’t until August 2019 that the Midland County District Attorney’s Office reported to Young’s attorneys that Petty had been billing the district court judges for work he had been performing while at the same time working for the district attorney’s office as its primary lawyer in post-conviction writ of habeas corpus cases.
The writ states that for approximately 17 years, “Petty had billed the trial court and other Midland judges for tens of thousands of dollars for work as a judicial clerk, all while he was a working as a prosecutor appearing in these courts, sometimes on the same cases he was working on as a judicial clerk.”
The Midland County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion on Aug. 22, 2019 to recuse itself. In September of that year, the Dawson County district attorney was appointed as attorney pro tem to act for the state in this matter.
In the writ’s claims for relief, the first claim is that the judicial bias and structural defect from the trial court’s hiring of a prosecutor as a paid judicial clerk during Young’s trial violated due process and the separation of powers. It states the trial judge paid Petty for work as a law clerk before, during and after Young’s trial.
It stated the simultaneous role as a judicial clerk and prosecutor violated the state and federal separation of powers and the Texas Constitution. It stated that Petty – a member of the executive branch with the DA’s Office — was working as a member of the judicial branch while Hyde authorized payments to him for his work as a judicial advisor/law clerk.
It stated that the due process and separation-of-powers violations stemming from the trial court’s arrangement with the prosecutor is a structural defect that warrants a new trial.
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Clinton Young Release
Clinton Young, the former death row inmate accused of murdering two people back in 2001, has been released on bond, according to a Midland County spokesperson.
Young was convicted on murder charges in 2003, but the decision was overturned on Sept. 22, 2021, after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals discovered the prosecutor in the case also worked for the judge.
Following the court’s overturning of his sentencing and death row status, Young was ordered back to Midland County, where jail records show he was transported on Oct. 29, 2021.
According to the Clinton Young Foundation Facebook page, Young’s bond was set at $150,000 on Jan. 19. He was released on Thursday after the page started asking for donations.
It is unclear at this time whether Young will be completely cleared or if he will need to be retried in court.