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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…

India: President Pranab Mukherjee rejects mercy plea of 2 convicts of Jharkhand massacre

The mercy plea of 2 convicts, who killed 8 members of a family including a physically disabled youth in Jharkhand nearly 9 years ago, has been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The President has rejected the plea of the convicts-- Mofil Khan and Mobarak Khan, officials said today. 

The duo had in June 2007 killed Haneef Khan with sharp-edged weapons when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Makandu village under Lohardaga district in the state. After killing him, they murdered his wife and his 6 sons which included the disabled youth. 

A case was registered by the local police against Mofil and Mobarak and 2 other assailants. Following the probe, a local court there had given death sentence to all the accused. However, the Jharkhand High Court had upheld death penalty to Mofil and Mubarak and modified the sentence to life term for the 2 others.

The Supreme Court in its final judgement in October 2014 also upheld the death penalty given to the convicts. 

A mercy petition was then filed before the President through the Home Ministry. The plea, which was received in December last year at the Presidents secretariat, seeking mercy has been rejected by Mukherjee, they said.

After taking over as the President in July 2012, Mukherjee has rejected 26 mercy pleas so far including those of 26/11 terror case convict Ajmal Kasab and 1993 blast case convict Yakub Memon. 

The death sentence in 2 cases has been commuted to life by the President. 2 mercy petitions of Jeetendra Gehlaut alias Jeetu, convicted for killing 5 women and 2 children during a robbery in Maharashtra, and Shabnam, who was convicted for killing 7 members of her family at Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, are pending with the President.

Source: India Today, June 23, 2016

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