Another Reason Martha Coakley Should Not Be Senator
I've never thought Martha Coakley would make a good U.S. Senator. I'm even more convinced now that she has signed her name to a brief restricting death penalty appeals, while claiming to be against the death penalty.
The case, which comes as Coakley is battling for votes in the Democratic Senate primary, involves a convicted murderer from Alabama who has appealed his case to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that his state-assigned lawyer failed to introduce crucial evidence that he is mentally retarded.
“There’s no way this kid should be killed,’’ said Stephen B. Bright, president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, an organization that opposes the death penalty. “It’s old-fashioned Southern states’ rights. I was shocked to see that she and the state of Massachusetts had joined that brief.’’
“This, from our point of view, is unrelated to a death penalty or any of the issues around that,’’ Coakley said. “A real concern was that we get a clear determination from the Supreme Court on what is the standard of review of a federal court looking at a state court decision.’’
How is limiting the appeal rights of a mentally retarded person sentenced to die not about the death penalty? AEDPA, which the brief addresses, is the infamously unfair "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act."[More...]
At issue is the interpretation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which in most instances bars federal reconsideration of legal and factual issues on which state courts have already ruled. A Supreme Court ruling in Alabama’s favor could result in federal courts having to defer to state judgments in many instances. Death penalty cases from the states are among those frequently challenged in federal court.
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