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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…

Georgia: Clemency hearing set for death row inmate set to be executed later this month

Joshua Bishop
Joshua Bishop
A clemency hearing is set for a Georgia death row inmate set to be executed later this month.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Tuesday that it will hear from advocates for Joshua Bishop on March 30. Bishop is scheduled to die the next day.

Bishop was convicted of murder and armed robbery in the 1994 beating death of Leverett Morrison in Milledgeville.

The parole board is the only entity in Georgia authorized to commute a death sentence.

Bishop, Morrison and Mark Braxley had been drinking and smoking crack on June 24, 1994. 

Prosecutors say Bishop tried to steal keys from Morrison, who was sleeping, and beat Morrison to death when he woke up.

Bishop and Braxley dumped Morrison's body between 2 trash bins and burned his Jeep.


Execution date set in 1994 Millegeville murder case 

A man convicted of a 1994 murder and armed robbery in Milledgeville is scheduled to die by lethal injection on March 31 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, according to a news release from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Joshua Bishop, now 41, was sentenced to die in the electric chair 2 years after the June 1994 slaying of Leverett Lewis Morrison, a 43-year-old Milledgeville native who had traveled from Savannah to visit his children that summer.

Morrison had been out drinking that evening with Bishop and Mark Braxley, a 57-year-old currently serving a life sentence for his part in the killing, according to The Telegraph's archives. The 3 men returned to a mobile home off Linton Road.

Bishop and Braxley planned to steal Morrison's Jeep Wagoneer. The 2 bludgeoned Morrison's head and face with a blunt object, which was never found. After Morrison died, the 2 men wrapped his body in a sheet, placed it near a trash bin and burned his Jeep.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Bishop's appeal request in October 2014, the release said. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will meet March 30 with representatives willing to advocate clemency for Bishop.

Sources: AP, macon.com, March 16, 2016

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