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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…

Death penalty up to judge: Indonesia

Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jessica Kumala Wongso
The Indonesian government is continuing to shy away from a public guarantee that the death penalty will not be carried out in the case of a woman accused of murdering her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee.

During a joint press conference in Sydney on Wednesday, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said Australia had received written assurance from the Indonesian government that the death penalty would not be carried out in the matter of Jessica Kumala Wongso, thus paving the way for the Australian Federal Police to provide assistance.

But when Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan was asked during the same conference to guarantee that undertaking, he replied: "Well, I think we leave it to the judge, the court, but I believe we work it out (the) Indonesian way."

The comments followed annual talks in Sydney between Australia and Indonesia on law and security and come more than a week after Jakarta prosecutors and police stated it was still "possible" Jessica could face the death penalty were she to be convicted of murder.

Jessica is accused of killing her 27-year-old friend Wayan Mirna Salihin in January with a poisoned Vietnamese ice coffee at a popular Jakarta restaurant.

The AFP helped with investigations into the case only on the proviso that the death penalty would not be sought or carried out were Jessica convicted.

In the event that a death sentence was handed down by the judge, Indonesia's president could grant clemency.

In a case that has dominated local press, Jessica is accused of killing 27-year-old Mirna, with whom she studied in Australia - first at Billy Blue College in Sydney and later at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne in 2008.

Jessica met up with Mirna and their friend Hani on January 6 during a trip home to Indonesia.

She allegedly laced Mirna's Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide and she collapsed and began convulsing moments after sipping it.

Prosecutors have more than 90 days to prepare the indictment against Jessica and hand it to Central Jakarta District Court.

Source: AAP, Karlis Salna and Lauren Farrow, June 8, 2016

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