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Lawyer group challenge speedy executions

Lawyers representing death row inmates filed suit with the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday in an attempt to invalidate parts of a law that Gov. Rick Scott signed two weeks ago that would speed executions.

The suit, filed by the public agency Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, called "The Timely Justice Act" a legislative overreach that takes away the judiciary's "efforts to shape, and authority to govern, the means and method of capital postconviction litigation." It named Attorney General Pam Bondi as the defendant.

The new law requires governors to sign death warrants 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court certifies that an inmate has exhausted all legal appeals. Once a death warrant is signed, the execution must take place within six months. The bill passed 84-34 in the House and 28-10 in the Senate. The new law will accelerate the fate of at least 13 of the 404 death row inmates who have exhausted their appeals. If Scott signs the death warrants on the 13 eligible inmates, and their executions followed, he would be on a pace to put to death 21 people since taking office in January 2011. The only other governor who executed that many people was former Gov. Jeb Bush, who ordered the execution of 21 convicted killers over an eight-year period.  

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the accelerated pace, calling it the result of an “abrupt whirlwind of political maneuvering." Scheduled to go into effect on Monday, the law would violate the Separation of Powers by requiring “constitutional officers of the judicial and executive branches” to take immediate actions because of the legislative action, according to the suit. It also claimed the law suspends the writ of habeas corpus, violates due process by interfering with judicial resolution of constitutional claims, and will result in cruel and unusual punishments “contrary to evolving standards of decency.”

“The Act creates a rushed process for issuance of a likely flood of death warrants that will inundate the courts and abruptly cut off this Court’s exercise of judicial review in capital cases,” the suit stated. “If not addressed prior to its operation in practice, the process will have the unconstitutional and irreversible result of individuals being executed under a legislatively-determined judicial procedure in which violations of their constitutional rights go unresolved. Further, Florida history shows that diminished process can have tragic and irreversible consequences.”

The 86-page emergency petition was signed by five lawyers: Neal Dupree, John W. Jennings, Martin McClain, Linda McDermott, and Terri Backhus.

To read the whole thing, click: Download Timelyjusticechallenge


 

Comments

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Jon

The lawyers could care less about a condemned person's constitutional rights. All they care about is making more money from a lengthy and costly appeals process.

whasup

Um ... Aren't lawyers supposed to tell the truth in court motions?

Do those attorneys who work for the people of Florida as employees of the State (Dupree and Jennings) not have an obligation to tell the truth?

If so, how could they honestly sign a motion that claims this legislation was "the result of an “abrupt whirlwind of political maneuvering."" as the article says?

It's one thing to tell only part of the truth, but quite another to flat out lie to the Court!

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If a state wants to kill it's citizens, it passes a law to make it possible. If anyone, like the courts interferes, all it takes is another law, to speed things up.

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If the execution will take fast, people will rely on the lawyers. So its lawyer's responsbility to grow faith in their clients.

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