Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act

State Court chief justices from around the country had their annual conference this week. Among the resolutions passed was one opposing the Streamlined Procedures Act, a bill that would limit death penalty appeals. The only "nay" vote came from Wallace Jefferson, the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, who said he hadn't had time to study the bill.

This bill is a bad idea. It would in effect kill habeas rights for prisoners - the chance for federal court review of a state court conviction and sentence.

Prisoners on death row generally reach federal courts using a legal petition known as habeas corpus — a centuries-old method of challenging allegedly illegal imprisonment. The petition gives an inmate a day in court to assert that his constitutional rights were violated at trial, leading to a serious error in the case.

The pending measures "may preclude state defendants in both capital and noncapital" cases from seeking relief in the federal courts "and may deprive the federal courts of jurisdiction in the vast majority of these matters, all with unknown consequences for the state courts and the administration of justice," the chief justices said in their resolution, passed at the group's annual meeting, in Charleston, S.C.

As I said here, this bill gets it a** backwards:

One of the principal reasons death penalty appeals take so long is that people languish on death row for years before a lawyer is appointed to represent them. If we raised the compensation levels and provided adeqate expense money for forensic testing and experts, more qualified lawyers would volunteer to defend death cases on appeal and in habeas proceedings and they wouldn't last so long.

Also, if we raised the standards for representation of capital defendants at the trial level, and required DNA testing where such evidence exists, and made the ABA standards for qualification mandatory, there would be far fewer claims of ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial level.

We should not do anything legislatively that might increase the risk that an innocent person will be put to death. It's not the American way.

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    Re: Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Or we could, um, not have the death penalty... I love how people think the criminal justice system just bends over backwards for the defendant. There's a bend alright, but it's in the opposite direction. The death penalty has to be abolished. Even if you're for it in theory, you have to recognize that we're putting innocent people in line to be murdered. Some are escaping by skin-of-their-teeth exonerations. Again and again we see innocence proved by DNA evidence. Kind of makes you wonder what happened to those innocents who didn't have the benefit of DNA testing. Oh right, we killed them. Anyone know what's going on with that case that may prove for the first time (right?) we executed an innocent man?

    Re: Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act (none / 0) (#2)
    by wishful on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Well waddyaknow...we still have judges who stand by the rule of law. We should enjoy it while it lasts. I am afraid that the wingers in power are accelerating their evil plan to replace judges from the top down and the bottom up with those who prefer the rule of somethingelsenotlaw.

    Re: Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act (none / 0) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    I guess "streamlined executions act" wasn't Orwellian enough to keep the wingnuts happy.

    Re: Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act (none / 0) (#4)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    The judge must want law and not the death of law. this bill is one more attack on justice inside the bush homeland.

    Re: Judges Oppose Streamlined Procedures Act (none / 0) (#5)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    c-law you are right, without money justice and courts kill.