Professor David Dow founded the Texas Innocence Network in 2000 and has represented more than 100 death row inmates.
Kelly Hickman, a 2013 UHLC graduate featured in the documentary, prepares for filming a segment in the Texas Innocence Network office.
Aug. 8, 2014 – The National Geographic Channel on Sunday will broadcast a documentary on capital punishment in which University of Houston Law Center Professor David Dow, the Texas Innocence Network he founded, and a law student play prominent roles.
The three-part series titled “Life and Death Row” is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. The UH Law Center’s death penalty clinic is profiled in the final episode beginning at 9 p.m. The series was aired in the United Kingdom in April with an estimated one million viewers tuning in.
BBC Three spent nearly a year filming at the Law Center, interviewing Dow, Kelly Hickman, who graduated in 2013, and other members of Dow’s legal team as they worked to win a stay of execution for a convicted murderer, Robert Pruett.
Created in 2000, the Texas Innocence Network (TIN), based at the University of Houston Law Center, is Texas’ oldest innocence network. Dow, who has been at the Law Center for more than 25 years, has represented more than 100 death row inmates in their state and federal appeals. Hickman worked for two years as a student with TIN and is currently a full-time supervising attorney.
Pruett, now 34, was sentenced in 1999 to die for stabbing a prison guard to death in retaliation for being written up in a disciplinary report. At the time, Pruett was serving a 99-year sentence for killing a neighbor when he was 16.
Dow, Hickman, clinical professor Jeff Newberry, and several other Law Center students initially won a stay for further DNA testing on a blood sample, which proved inconclusive. The team has filed a new appeal on grounds that the DNA found at the murder scene is common to about 30 percent of the population. They also claim Pruett received ineffective counsel during the punishment phase of his trial.
The BBC Three series was prompted in part by a survey showing that a majority of young people in the U.K. support return to capital punishment which was abolished there in 1965.