"Lawyer says Timely Justice Act is unfair, limits opportunities to introduce new evidence," is the AP report filed by Kareem Copeland. It's via the Greenfield Reporter
A lawyer for death row inmates told Florida Supreme Court justices a law meant to quicken the process of carrying out death sentences unfairly limits the opportunity for condemned prisoners to introduce new evidence.
The state says the act only mandates that the process is carried out in a reasonable amount of time.
"There's many individuals who aren't on death row who have been sentenced to life that DNA results have exonerated 35 years afterward," attorney Martin McClain told the Associated Press afterward. "I certainly understand the notion that we want to be moving these cases along, but we still need to make sure that the convictions are reliable and the sentences of death are reliable."
The Timely Justice Act of 2013 created stricter timeframes for appeals and post-conviction motions. It also enacts reporting requirements on case progress. The high court spent nearly an hour Tuesday hearing arguments about the contentious law passed by the Florida Legislature.
"The argument is about whether or not the Timely Justice Act interferes with the judicial process that ensures reliability," McClain said.
The Supreme Court did not indicate when it would issue a ruling in the case.
WFSU-FM posts, "Florida Supreme Court Hears Timely Justice Act Arguments," by Jessica Palombo. There is audio at the link.
The Florida Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments on a law intended to speed up the capital punishment process. When Florida’s Timely Justice Act was enacted last year, critics warned it would deprive inmates of their right to appeal.
Martin McClain is the lawyer for a handful of death row inmates. He argues the Timely Justice Act makes capital cases more confusing.
“I need to know what’s going on. I need notice and an opportunity to be heard, and we’ve got a statute that’s now set up to change things in a way that everybody disagrees as to what it does,” he told justices Tuesday.
He takes issue with the law’s requirement for the Supreme Court to periodically provide the governor with a list of “warrant ready” inmates. McClain said that requirement is unconstitutional because it infringes on the court’s rulemaking power. But several of the court’s seven justices, including Barbara Pariente, didn’t seem to agree.
“We may not agree this is the best policy to accomplish what they’re wanting to accomplish, but where does it infringe on this court’s authority?” she asked.
"With 132 Death Row Inmates Readied for Execution, Lawyers Contest Fast-Track Law Before Florida Justices," is by Dara Kam for the News Service of Florida. It's via FlaglerLive.
A new law intended to speed up executions did little to change the status quo, an attorney representing the state told the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday.
But a lawyer representing Death Row inmates argued that the “Timely Justice Act” is premised on a faulty list that violates the constitutionally protected separation of powers as well as inmates’ rights to due process.
More than 150 lawyers and Death Row inmates are challenging the law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June.
The law requires the Supreme Court clerk to give the governor a certified list of Death Row inmates whose initial state and federal appeals have been exhausted. The law orders the governor to sign death warrants for the condemned on the list within 30 days and to direct the warden to schedule their executions within 180 days — but only once the executive clemency process has been completed. Scott and his lawyers maintain that the clemency process ends when the governor signs a warrant.
In October, then-Supreme Court Clerk Tom Hall certified to Scott an initial list of 132 inmates who are at least partially “warrant ready” under the requirements of the law.
Scott has signed four death warrants since the law went into effect. Prior to that, Scott ordered nine executions since taking office in 2011.
"Florida Justices Not Yet Ready To Strike Timely Justice Act," is by Adolfo Pesquera of Daily Business Review.
The Florida Supreme Court appeared unwilling to find the Timely Justice Act unconstitutional, but left open the possibility it might strike certain provisions.
Passed by the 2013 Legislature, the act was an attempt to accelerate death penalty warrants once the initial round of post conviction appeals are complete in death penalty cases.
It was immediately challenged upon enactment by a coalition of defense attorneys. The act has many components, including suspensions for defense attorneys that are twice found to have provided ineffective assistance, reporting requirements on which inmates have exhausted their appeals and a deadline for the governor to sign warrants.
Martin McClain of McClain & McDermott in Wilton Manors argued the law was facially unconstitutional. He said it infringed on the governor's authority, but the justices argued it had no effect on a governor's clemency power.
Justice Barbara Pariente appeared unimpressed with the law's effects. Nothing prevents the court from staying a case if there is a post-conviction successive motion—those dealing with new exculpatory evidence.
"There are some parts of this act that has me thinking it doesn't accomplish what the Legislature wants it to accomplish," Pariente said.
McClain emphasized the discretion taken from the governor over when he must sign death warrants.
Earlier coverage from Florida begins at the link.