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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…

Stop the state of Georgia from executing Kenny Fults

Kenny Fults
Kenny Fults
Kenny Fults is a Georgia death row inmate facing execution on April 12, 2016. Because Kenny's death sentenced is contaminated by racial bias, his case is an embarrassment to our justice system. His execution must be stopped.

Kenny is an African-American man who reads only on a 4th grade level and has an IQ that places him in the bottom 3 % of the population. In 1996, he pled guilty to the murder of a white woman in a small Georgia town. After his guilty plea, a jury sentenced Kenny to death.

A few years after the trial, Thomas Buffington, one of the jurors who sentenced Kenny to death, said this in a sworn affidavit: "I don't know if he ever killed anybody, but that nigger got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that's what that nigger deserved."

In a recent editorial, professors Charles Ogletree and David J. Harris asked readers to "raise your hand if you believe that a juror could make this statement and be considered fair and impartial." Of course, no one would raise their hand. However, the courts in Georgia have refused to even consider the issue and now Kenny Fults is in line to be executed by the state of Georgia despite the fact that racism infected the sentencing process in Kenny's case.

In addition to the racist juror, Kenny was represented by an overworked, contract defense lawyer with a checkered racist history. The attorney, Johnny Mostiler, carried a crushing caseload. It was so bad that one of the leading experts in the field of attorney caseloads stated that he had "grave concerns about Mr. Mostiler's ability to adequately defend any of his clients given the workload he was carrying." Jurors interviewed after Kenny's trial commented on the minimal effort that Mostiler put into the case and observed him sleeping in court during the trial. In other cases, Mostiler was accused of using the term "nigger" and calling his client "a little nigger." Mostiler did not deny accusations, but added that "nigger" was not a phrase that he would use in public.

A person's race can never be a factor in judicial decision making. In Kenny's case, however, it was the only factor that mattered to Juror Buffington. Kenny's execution should not be allowed to go forward under these circumstances. In Georgia, only the State Board of Pardons and Paroles can grant clemency and commute Kenny's sentence to life without any possibility of parole.

It is time to raise your hand and say that because racial bias taints this death sentence, Kenny Fults should not be executed. Please sign this petition asking the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Kenny Fults's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

For more information please visit www.savekennyfults.com


Source: change.org, April 2016

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