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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…

Indonesia: Absence of interpreters causes problems for foreign defendants

Indonesia: Absence of interpreters causes problems for foreign defendants
The Indonesian justice system often fails to protect the rights of foreign defendants, particularly the right to be accompanied by an interpreter during legal processes, an activist has said.

The absence of interpreters is a serious matter, particularly for defendants accused of committing serious crimes who could face heavy sentences, including the death penalty, Indonesian Judicial Watch Society researcher Anugerah Rizki Akbari said on Thursday.

He gave an example of Filipino suspect Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who was on death row in 2015.

“Mary was given an English interpreter during trials when she actually needed a Tagalog interpreter,” Rizki said at the Celebrating Life event held at Plaza Indonesia shopping mall on Thursday.

Indonesia halted the execution of Veloso after the Attorney General’s Office last year received information suggesting she was a victim of human trafficking. Her execution was postponed, pending legal processes in the Philippines.

A similar situation occurred in 2002 when Nonthanam M. Saicon, a Thai national, was sentenced to death for smuggling narcotics, Rizki said.

In a court hearing for a judicial review this year, the Supreme Court decided to reduce Nonthanam’s sentence from the death penalty to life in prison because the Tangerang District Court had failed to provide a Thai interpreter during the trial.

The Supreme Court believed she could not fully understand the indictment against her, so justices reduced her sentence.

Source: Jakarta Post, Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, September 8, 2016

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