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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…

Connecticut court to rule on death penalty abolishment

The Connecticut Supreme Court is set to rule on whether to confirm or overturn its decision last year to abolish the state's death penalty.

Justices are expected to release their ruling Monday in the appeal of Russell Peeler Jr., who was sentenced to death for ordering the 1999 killings of a woman and her 8-year-old son in Bridgeport.

The court ruled 4-3 in August that capital punishment was unconstitutional, striking down a 2012 law that abolished the death penalty for future murders but left it in place for 11 men already facing execution. 

The decision came in the appeal of another death row inmate, Eduardo Santiago.

The Supreme Court allowed state prosecutors in the Peeler case to address issues the court raised in the Santiago ruling.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 29, 2016

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