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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…

Chilling Tale in Duterte’s Drug War: Father and Son Killed in Police Custody

Philippine police officers
MANILA — Even amid the slaughter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, the killings of Renato and Jaypee Bertes stand out.

The Bertes men, father and son, shared a tiny, concrete room with six other people in a metropolitan Manila slum, working odd jobs when they could find them. Both smoked shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine that has become a scourge in the Philippines. Sometimes Jaypee Bertes sold it in small amounts, relatives said.

So it was unsurprising when the police raided their room last month.

They were arrested and taken to a police station where, investigators say, they were severely beaten, then shot to death.

The police said the two had tried to escape by seizing an officer’s gun. But a forensic examination found that the men had been incapacitated by the beatings before they were shot; Jaypee Bertes had a broken right arm.

“There is no justification at all,” said Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, a member of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, an independent government body that investigated the case. “How can you shoot someone who is already in your custody?”

The two men are among more than 800 people who have been killed by police officers and vigilantes since the May election of Mr. Duterte, who has repeatedly called for killing drug dealers and users. Most have been killed by police officers, in encounters the police characterize as confrontations or self-defense. More than 200 have been attributed to vigilantes, who often leave cardboard signs declaring their victims to be drug pushers.

Mr. Duterte has not commented on the case, which has been widely reported in the local news media. In a speech on Wednesday, he said that the police should not use excessive force, but he showed no sign of backing down from his call to kill drug suspects.

“The fight against drugs will continue unrelenting until we have destroyed the apparatus operating in the entire country,” he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The New York Times, Richard C. Paddock, August 19, 2016
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