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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…

Louisiana: Glover files bill to compensate Glenn Ford's family

Glenn Ford
Glenn Ford
State Rep. Cedric Glover has filed a bill that would provide compensation to the family of the late Glenn Ford, who was released from prison after serving 30 years on death row after being wrongly convicted of a Shreveport murder.

Ford was released in March 2014, but died last summer after suffering late stage lung cancer. He and his family have so far been denied $330,000 in compensation from the state because the court has ruled Ford didn't meet the burden of proof for "factual innocence."

Ironically, Glover's bill seeks to clarify the law he authored in 2005 that provides compensation for those wrongly imprisoned.

"I couldn't in good conscience return to this body and not try to address what I believe is a grave injustice and a misinterpretation of the law," said Glover, who returned to the House this year after serving as Shreveport's mayor. "Most reasonable folks find it an injustice that he and his family wouldn't qualify for this compensation.

"It's something highly regrettable, and it's incumbent on me to step forward and offer a legislative remedy," Glover told Gannett Louisiana.

The state and the family of jewelry store owner Isadore Rozeman, who was murdered in 1983, contend Ford was involved in crimes associated with the murder and therefore shouldn't be entitled to compensation.

But A.M. "Marty" Stroud III, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 murder trial in which Ford was convicted, has drafted a letter in support of Glover's bill.

"As a prosecutor who argued strenuously for the death penalty to be imposed upon Mr. Ford, I wish I could undo the treatment and suffering I caused both the families of Mr. Rozeman and Mr. Ford," Stroud wrote, according to a press release from the Innocence Project New Orleans. "Obviously, I can't do that, but I can lend my voice to the effort to show that this state has some compassion for the wrongfully convicted.

"For 30 years, Glenn Ford lived in a cage not fit for human beings. He was a castaway that was forgotten by society. The proposed change to the definition of 'factual innocence' makes it very clear that the Glenn Fords of this world would have a realistic chance of some compensation for their mistreatment. If we are indeed a civilized people, this proposed amendment should have no problem being readily and fully endorsed by the legislature of this state."

Ford's attorney, Kristin Wenstrom of Innocence Project said, "If our law does not allow Glenn Ford to be compensated, it must be changed. We fully support Rep. Glover's impressive effort to make law mean justice."

Glover's House Bill 1116 will be assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Ford's case asking for compensation under the current law has been appealed to the Second Circuit Court, but Wenstrom said Wednesday the court hasn't issued a ruling.

Source: thenewsstar.com, April 7, 2016

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