State lawmakers meant business in the high-crime 1990s, getting tough on so-called writ abuse by convicted killers who could file multiple appeals in state courts and drag out a case for years.
The upshot was passage of the Habeas Corpus Reform Act in 1995, a political no-brainer. The catchphrase was “one bite at the apple” for death-row appeals. The promise was sure and swift justice.
So why is Texas still litigating capital cases from the 1990s?
For good cause, it turns out.
In a 1996 murder case out of San Antonio, Trevino vs. Thaler, the U.S. Supreme Court decided May 28 that the state’s 18-year-old, two-pronged system of automatic appeals for death-row inmates is still not adequate in assuring competent counsel.
The Supreme Court ruling in Trevino v. Thaler is available in Adobe .pdf format
Earlier coverage of the Trevino ruling begins at the link.