Monday, August 27, 2007

Bush's Fast Track To Death Penalty Lodge Objections Before Sept. 24

Important News: Not Good News At All

US Attorney General Gonzales to wield new death penalty wsws (reposted) Wednesday Aug 22nd, 2007 7:35 AM
The US Justice Department is finalizing regulations that would give Attorney General Alberto Gonzales new authority in capital cases to shorten the time death row inmates have to appeal their convictions in federal court.

The new provisions, added to last year’s reauthorization of the “anti-terror” USA Patriot Act, grant the attorney general the power to decide whether individual states are providing adequate legal counsel to capital defendants. Federal judges now hold that authority.
The rules will be written into law after the September 23 deadline for “public comment” has passed. In essence, the attorney general will be given the sole authority to “fast track” death penalty procedures, severely restricting the time condemned inmates have to appeal their convictions after their cases have been settled in state courts.
Wrongfully convicted condemned inmates — and those who have received inadequate legal representation — face the prospect of being sent to their deaths with outstanding issues as to their innocence.
Kathryn Kase, a Houston lawyer and co-chair of the death penalty committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, commented to the Los Angeles Times, “This is the Bush administration throwing down the gauntlet and saying, ‘We are going to speed up executions.
"The new rules constitute a flagrant violation of constitutional protections of due process, particularly the right of habeas corpus to seek relief from unlawful detention.
They place life-and-death decisions affecting condemned death penalty defendants in the hands of the government’s top prosecutor.also found that 7 percent of those whose convictions were overturned were also found to be not guilty of the capital crime.
The average amount of time taken for these cases to make their way through the appeals process was nine years.
Death penalty supporters object to the amount of time spent on death penalty appeals.
While in the early 1980s, the average time between sentencing and execution was four years, it now averages 11 years. They want to speed this process up, which would inevitably result in the execution of those who are innocent of the capital crime, and/or whose legal and constitutional rights have been violated during prosecutions.

You can read more here from

The Washington Post

The rules would give Gonzales the authority to approve "fast-track" procedures by states in death penalty cases, enabling them to carry out sentences more speedily and with fewer opportunities for appeal if those states provide adequate representation for capital defendants.
Such powers were previously held by federal judges, but a provision of the USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill approved by Congress last year hands the authority to the attorney general.
Under the regulations, death row inmates would have six months, instead of a year, to file appeals in the federal courts, and federal judges would have less time to consider petitions in capital cases.

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