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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…

Duterte takes up Veloso’s case with Widodo: 'No urgency as Veloso off execution schedule indefinitely for now'

Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Joko Widodo, right.
Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Joko Widodo, right.
President Rodrigo Duterte took up convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso’s case during his tête-à-tête with Indonesia President Joko Widodo at the Istana Merdeka in Jakarta on Friday.

But he refused to give details of their conversation on the fate of Veloso who remained on death row in Indonesia’s prison after being saved a by a last-minute reprieve from her scheduled death by firing squad in May 2015 from an appeal by then President Benigno Aquino III.

“Not for public consumption,” said the President in a short talk with media after concluding his meeting with Widodo.

Pressed on to comment on whether he exchanged notes with Widodo on antidrug measures, the President said: “No, I said that we will continue to respect each other’s judicial processes. The rule of law is what matters, gives order to the community.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said both governments felt no urgency to take action in the case as she had been taken off the execution schedule indefinitely at the moment.

“This is not an urgent issue as of now, let’s finish the process. Her scheduled execution has been deferred because she would be testifying in the deposition case against her illegal recruiter. After prosecuting the illegal recruiter who are the main principals here and if it turns out in the trial in the Philippines that Mary Jane is a victim then at the point we can ask for clemency soon,” said Yasay.

Yasay is hopeful that the case against the illegal recruiter of Veloso, who was caught with 2.5 kilograms of cocaine inside the lining of her bag at the Indonesian airport in 2010, will be resolved in a year’s time.

In the meantime, Yasay said Veloso had been allowed to give her deposition in the case pending with the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial court.

Source: inquirer.net, September 9, 2016

Jokowi, Duterte tight-lipped on Veloso


Rodrigo Duterte in Jakarta's State Palace on September 9, 2016
Rodrigo Duterte in Jakarta's State Palace on September 9, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday that the topic of death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso, who was detained by Indonesia for drug trafficking, was not among the subjects being discussed with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo during his state visit to the country.

After a joint press statement at the State Palace, Duterte told reporters that Veloso's issue was not for public consumption.

"We agree to respect each other's judicial processes. The rule of law is what matters," Duterte told reporters after a joint press statement at the State Palace.

Philippine national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had been excluded from the list of the third round of executions prepared by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) in April, as legal procedures continued in a separate but related case in her country.

Veloso was on the execution list last year but was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss had been arrested in the Philippines. The authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.

Jokowi held a welcome ceremony in the afternoon, after taking Duterte on his famous blusukan (impromptu visit) to Tanah Abang textile market in Central Jakarta to give an example of how Indonesia manages social issues directly from the field, which was followed by a bilateral meeting.

Source: Jakarta Post, September 9, 2016

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