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August 13, 2013

Arizona Attorney General sues feds seeking decision on fast-tracking capital habeas cases

As reported in this Wall Street Journal piece, headlined "Arizona Sues to Expedite Death-Penalty Appeals; State Pushes U.S. Justice Department for a Decision on 'Accelerated Status'," the AG of Arizona has had to go to court in order to get the US Department of Justice to make a long-pending decision concerning the capital appeals process. Here are the basics:

Arizona’s attorney general, hoping to speed up appeals in death-penalty cases, sued the federal government Monday for allegedly delaying a decision on whether the state can expedite the process.

Notice of the suit, filed in federal appeals court in Washington Monday, comes after Arizona amended its capital-case procedures to meet congressional requirements passed more than four years ago allowing some states “accelerated status” in death-penalty appeals. The U.S. Justice Department’s “failure to act has deprived [Arizona] of the benefits Congress intended in the form of streamlined procedures,” a statement from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said.

The Obama administration is working on rules for how states must comply with the congressional requirements and is expected to publish the rules soon. “We continue to make progress on the rule-making,” a Justice Department official wrote to Mr. Horne in a July 16 letter....

A spokeswoman for Mr. Horne’s office said it takes between 10 and 15 years to carry out an execution once someone is convicted in a death-penalty case in Arizona. There are 122 people currently on death row in Arizona, according to state records.

Mr. Horne said Arizona has made improvements in its handling of death-penalty cases, and that allowing it expedited status could shave as much as a decade off delays in executions.  “If families are able to see justice done in a reasonable time, it helps with recovery and provides closure,” Mr. Horne said, in announcing the suit Monday.  “If they are victimized a second time by undue delays in the federal system, it only adds to their pain and suffering.”...

Accelerated status would require that the federal district court take action on a case within 450 days and the court of appeals respond within 120 days of the filing of the last reply brief, according to the state Attorney General’s office.

August 13, 2013 at 08:10 AM | Permalink


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LOL cute. if they have been working on these so-called "rules" for over 4 years. That tells me they really don't want the rules in the first place.

Which makes it another perfect example of our broken govt!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 13, 2013 10:04:06 PM

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