Chicago Death Penalty Defenders Out of Money, Seek Dismissal
The Public Defender's capital unit in Chicago has requested a judge dismiss a death penalty case because they are out of funds. Without money to retain expert witnesses for their client who has serious mental issues and is facing the death penalty for a double homicide, they can't provide an adequate defense and comply with the Sixth Amendment's requirement of a fair trial.
Cost is becoming as much an argument against the death penalty as wrongful convictions. New Jersey lawmakers cited the financial burden as one reason for their decision to abolish capital punishment in 2007, and other states are wrestling with similar legislation.
Placek's motion is the first of its kind for the public defender's office but probably not the last, said Assistant Public Defender Julie Harmon, the office's capital case coordinator. But she denied it's a new legal tactic to remove the threat of the death penalty for clients.
The office is currently representing 120 clients facing the death penalty: [More...]
The fund pays for medical, mental health and other experts, depositions, transcripts, travel expenses for witnesses and other costs.
The public defender's 2009 allotment of $1.75 million was already exhausted this month, in large part because 60 percent of the money went to cover unpaid bills from 2008, Harmon said.
Prosecutors intend to oppose the request.
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