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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…

New Zealander Peter Gardner still awaiting verdict on meth charges in China

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
The New Zealander arrested in China in 2014 for allegedly trying to leave the country with 30 kilograms of methamphetamine is still in jail awaiting a verdict.

Peter Gardner has been in a Chinese jail cell for over a year, after he was stopped at Guangzhou Baiyan International Airport and allegedly caught with $25 million of meth in his bags.

Speaking on The Nation, China's ambassador to New Zealand Wang Luton said a decision on his verdict is still being discussed, and the death penalty is a possibility.

"I think our people in China are still working on this case, and China is a country of the rule of law. We will do anything according to the rule of law," he said.

He said the death penalty has been effective in fighting crime, but authorities are cautious about carrying it out.

"The local government, the local court, couldn't decide for the death penalty. They've got to submit this to what could be the Supreme Court for the final decision. There are very strict procedures to go through for the final decisions."

He said the fact it is a New Zealander facing the death penalty is being discussed, but he cannot say more.

Peter Gardner maintains his innocence and claims he was carrying a drug precursor, which is legal in China.

Source: Newshub, July 16, 2016

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