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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…

Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Execution of Ukrainian Man in Virginia

Ivan Teleguz
Ivan Teleguz
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a temporary stay of execution for Ivan Teleguz, a Ukrainian national who was convicted of ordering the 2001 murder of his girlfriend, Stephanie Sipe. 

He was scheduled to be put to death on April 13.

Following his conviction, 2 witnesses recanted their testimony against him, with 1 of them saying he fabricated most of his testimony to avoid the death penalty himself. 

During the trial, the jury was told that Teleguz was involved in another murder that did not in fact occur as alleged.

"A man's life hangs in the balance based on the faulty testimony of witnesses, one of whom later claimed to have lied to avoid the death penalty" said James Clark, senior death penalty campaigner for Amnesty International USA. "This is clearly a broken system that must be ended entirely. Ivan Teleguz's sentence must be commuted permanently."

Source: Amnesty International USA, March 29, 2016

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