USA | States Continue to Oppose DNA Testing in Death Penalty Appeals, Attorneys Ask Why Don’t They Want to Learn the Truth?

The last 3 men scheduled for execution in Georgia said they did not commit the killing and that DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial could prove it. In 2 of the cases, victim family members supported the request for testing. Prosecutors opposed the requests, and the courts refused to allow the testing. 2 of the 3 men were executed, with doubts still swirling as to their guilt.
Shawn Nolan, a federal defender who represented Georgia prisoner Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, summed up the sentiments of the prisoners, families, and defense attorneys in these cases. “I’d like to know what the state is so scared of,” he said. “Why are they afraid of the truth? This is sad and so disturbing.”
“We have the capability of testing a wide range of forensic evidence that we couldn’t test in the past,” said Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham. “It is a powerful tool to get to the truth and to get important answers as to whether the criminal legal system has b…

India | SC decides to fast-track hearing of criminal appeals in death penalty cases

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) In the backdrop of procedural delay in the Nirbhaya case, the Supreme Court has decided to fast-track the hearing of criminal appeals involving death penalty.

A circular was issued on Friday by the apex court saying all appeals must be listed for hearing not later than six months, no matter if the appeal is ready or not, a significant departure from the past when appeals from high courts did not come up for hearing for years.

"In a matter wherein, the High Court has confirmed/upheld death penalty, and this court has granted leave, the criminal appeal will be listed for hearing not later than six months before the three-judge bench from the grant of leave, irrespective of the fact that appeal is ready or not", said the circular of the top court.

The Centre has told the apex court that the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case have brazenly exploited the loopholes in the legal procedure in execution of death row convicts.

The circular said, "As soon as the Special Leave Petition involving death penalty is filed, a communication from Registry may be sent to the court appealed from, to make ready and dispatch to this court the certificate of services as well as the original record within a period of sixty days or within further such period fixed by court."

The top court also issued several other directions to Registrars to ensure speedy hearing and disposal. "On grant of leave by the court, the Registry may insist on filing of additional documents by the parties within a period of thirty days after the receipt of the intimation from the Registry in this regard", added the circular.

The top court observed that in the event records or additional documents have not been received or filed, the matter may be listed before the judge in chambers with appropriate office report for directions, instead of listing the matter before the Registrar court as per existing practice.

"The aforesaid directions shall be followed scrupulously by all, especially the branches dealing with criminal matters and listing branch", said the top court in the circular.

On January 31, a trial court stayed "till further orders" the execution of four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case of 2012. Out of four convicts, three have exhausted all legal remedies against the death penalty. The delay in the hanging has triggered public outcry.

Source: IANS, Staff, February 14, 2020

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