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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…

Texas: Disbarment of Former District Attorney Upheld

Anthony Graves
Anthony Graves
Former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta Jr. will remain disbarred for his conduct in winning the wrongful capital murder conviction of Anthony Graves.

The Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals Monday upheld Sebesta's disbarment for "professional misconduct" in the case.

Graves was sentenced to death for the 1992 killings of a Somerville family.

His co-defendant, Robert Carter, originally testified that Graves was involved, but later said only he was responsible for killing the family. 

The State Bar of Texas disbarred the former district attorney for several mistakes in the case, including not correcting Carter's testimony.

Carter was executed in 2000. A federal appeals court overturned Graves' conviction and ordered a new trial in 2006, and Graves was released in 2010 after 18 years behind bars — 16 of which were on death row.

After the bar's decision, Sebesta appealed to the board, arguing that changes in disciplinary procedures warranted overturning his disbarment.

Source: Texas Tribune, Jonathan Silver, Feb. 8, 2016

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