AG Drafts Rules to Speed Executions
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is drafting proposed regulations that would give him the power to permit states to speed up death penalty appeals.
The attorney general is taking advantage of a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act adopted last year that gives the attorney general, rather than judges, the power to decide whether states are providing adequate legal counsel to defendants, the Los Angeles Times reports. States that meet the requirement can use fast-track death penalty procedures.
The federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 had given federal judges the power to decide whether states were providing adequate counsel. Several judges had ruled states were not complying.
In states that meet the standard, death-row inmates have only six months, rather than one year, to file federal habeas appeals after state courts consider the legal issues. Federal judges would also have to meet strict deadlines to decide the cases.