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July 1, 2005

House hearing on death penalty and habeas bills

Thanks to a link from CrimProf Blog, I just discovered that the US House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security yesterday held a legislative hearing entitled "Does an Accurate and Swift Death Penalty Deter Crime and Save Lives?".  This legislative hearing concerned two bills introduced last week: HR 3060, the "Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act of 2005" (available here); and HR 3035, the "Streamlined Procedures Act" (available here).  The first bill appears to make a number of modifications to the federal death penalty, and the second bill appears to make a number of modifications to the federal habeas corpus provisions of AEDPA.

A press advisory about the hearing from the office of Committee Chair Sensenbrenner is available here, and a webcast of the hearings along with links to the written testimony is available here.  The written testimony of Professor Bernard Harcourt, available here, begins with this ominous account of the habeas provisions of HR 3035:

I would like to focus my remarks today on H.R. 3035, the "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," for the very simple reason that this proposed bill is radical. It seeks a radical cutting and slashing of our existing process of federal habeas corpus review of state convictions under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act reform package that Congress carefully crafted in 1996 (the "AEDPA"). This new bill would effectively gut federal habeas corpus review where states have imposed a sentence of death — in other words, in the most important habeas cases — as well as in non-capital cases.

Since these bills are news to me, I have no clear sense of their origins or prospects.  Readers with more information about these bills are encouraged to use the comments to report any pertinent news.

July 1, 2005 at 08:54 AM | Permalink


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The next paragraph is even crazier: Section 9, titled “Capital Cases,” effectively strips all federal courts of jurisdiction to consider most claims in state death penalty cases if the United States Attorney General certifies that the state from which the conviction emanated provides competent counsel to indigent capital defendants in state post-conviction proceedings.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 1, 2005 9:53:07 AM

Though I don't have anything of substance to add, I am compelled to offer my condolences to a once great nation--a nation of laws, not men. May her memory inspire future generations to creat a similar, and maybe even improved "...more perfect union..."
Sigh, I am grief-stricken.

Posted by: jeannie | Jul 1, 2005 1:39:13 PM


You recently mentioned someone should start an AEDPA blog. IF S.1088/ H.R.3035 passes I am sure it will be a foot race.

S.1088/ H.R.3035 chances of passage have been upgrade from poor to fair, the question is whether the PA Senators (Specter Judic. / Santorum Conf. Chair)will back it, both are needed for its passage. Santorum has previously indicated concerns in the past about too few appeals in DP cases and is behind in the polls for his reelection in 2006 to a "consistently pro-life dem."

Finally, if passed large swaths of S.1088/ H.R.3035 are facially unconstiutional (SCOTUS jurisdiction stripping, delegation of Art III powers to executive, retroactivity / attainder, etc.) and should be fun to watch it clog the fed cts in a way that will make the Booker aftermath seem tame.

- k

Posted by: karl | Jul 6, 2005 11:46:31 PM

What are you talking about Jeannie? What would be wrong with a system without collateral attacks available in federal courts ?

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 7, 2005 7:57:27 PM

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