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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…

Japan: Bar association chief criticizes naming of man sentenced to death

Typical death-row cell, Osaka Prison
Typical death-row cell, Osaka Prison
TOKYO — The head of the Japanese bar association on Friday criticized news organizations that reported the name of a man sentenced to death for a double murder committed when he was a juvenile.

“It is regrettable that the news reports violated the juvenile law, which bans publishing articles and photographs that could identify a juvenile delinquent,” Kazuhiro Nakamoto, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said in a statement.

The statement was issued after the Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that sentenced to death the man who was 18 when he killed two women and seriously injured a man in 2010.

Major newspapers including the Asahi, Yomiuri and Nikkei, as well as Kyodo News published the man’s name on the grounds that the opportunity for rehabilitation ends when a death penalty is finalized, and the name of a person to be executed by the state should not be kept confidential.

Some other major newspapers, including the Mainichi and the Tokyo Shimbun, reported the Supreme Court decision without revealing the name of the man to be executed, saying the chance for his rehabilitation remains due to the possibility of amnesty or retrial.

Nakamoto said the dignity and the constitutionally guaranteed right to the pursuit of happiness of a minor are not terminated with the finalization of a death sentence.

“While it is needless to say that constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression is important and it is necessary to report the details of a crime in order to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents, it cannot be said the real name and photo of a minor are indispensable factors for news reports,” the national bar association head said.

Source: Japan Today, June 18, 2016

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