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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

India: SC to rehear death row convict's plea

India's Supreme Court
India's Supreme Court
The Supreme Court today agreed to re-hear the plea of Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Arif, alias Ashfaq, seeking review of the death sentence awarded to him for his role in the attack on an Army battalion at Red Fort here in 2000.

A 5-member Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the review plea would be heard in open court by a Bench of 3 judges in the light of another Constitution Bench ruling in September 2014 acknowledging the need for transparency in such hearings.

Ashfaq's counsel pleaded that his client had been convicted only for conspiracy and was not part of the terror team that had mounted the attack, killing 3 jawans. 

Further, Ashfaq was the only death-row convict who could not take advantage of the 2014 SC verdict as his curative petition had been dismissed ahead of that, he contended and pleaded for open court hearing by relaxing the norm.

Confirming the death sentence awarded to Ashfaq, the SC had ruled on August 10, 2011 that he did not deserve anything less as he was part of both the conspiracy to wage a war against India and its execution. 

During the hearing of the appeal, Ashfaq could not cite a single mitigating circumstance warranting commutation of the death penalty, the apex court had pointed out.

In all, 6 militants had sneaked into the fort on December 22, 2000, and opened indiscriminate fire, killing 3. After the attack, all of them escaped by scaling the rear boundary wall of the 17th century monument.

Source: tribuneindia.com, January 20, 2016

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