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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…

South Korea Top Court OKs Soldier's Death Penalty Over Rampage

"Shooting rampages by bullied South Korean soldiers are not unusual."
South Korea's top court on Friday upheld a death penalty for a soldier convicted of killing five comrades in shooting and grenade attacks in a front-line army unit in 2014.

The verdict by the Supreme Court is final and cannot be appealed, a court official said, requesting anonymity because of department rules. The Defense Ministry said it confirmed the court's ruling.

The conscript, only identified by his surname Yim, had told investigators after his arrest that he assaulted fellow soldiers because he felt insulted by drawings they made of him. He had fled into the forest near the border with North Korea but was captured after a failed suicide attempt.

South Korean courts occasionally issue death sentences but the country has not executed anyone since December 1997. 

Yim has become the 61st person in South Korea on a death row, according to records from the Justice Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

South Korea requires all able-bodied men to serve in the military for about 2 years in the face of a threat from North Korea. 

Shooting rampages by bullied soldiers in South Korean army barracks are not unusual. In 2005, another soldier went on a similar rampage and killed 8 colleagues in anger at superiors who he said verbally abused him. He too was sentenced to death.

Such rampages raised serious questions about the discipline and readiness of South Korea's military, which faces North Korean troops across the world's most heavily fortified border. Confrontations between the rivals deepened recently following the North's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 19, 2016

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