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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…

Florida Senate votes down death penalty change

Florida's death chamber
Florida's death chamber
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A sharply divided Florida Senate is rejecting a proposal to require a unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty cases.

The Senate voted twice Wednesday on whether to require all 12 jurors to agree on death sentences. 

The proposal was rejected by votes of 22-18 and 23-17.

Florida doesn't require unanimous jury recommendations. But the Legislature is poised to change the law, requiring at least 10 out of 12 to recommend execution in order for it to be carried out.

The Senate originally wanted to require all jurors to agree on a death sentence. But senators agreed to switch to 10 jurors as part of a compromise with the House.

The Legislature is rewriting the death penalty law after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the current method is unconstitutional.

Source: The Associated Press, March 2, 2016

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