The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports, "Legal office for death row inmates seeks more money," by Jimmie E. Gates. Here's an extended excerpt from the beginning:
The state legal office that often represents the last hope for indigent death row inmates in their appeals has four attorneys handling 22 cases and is having to outsource cases, costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, the group's director said.
The Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel wants state lawmakers to change the way the office is funded because, its director says, the special assessment on traffic tickets isn't bringing in enough money to fully fund the office.
"We are getting an increased case load and our staffing level is well below that that is required by the American Bar Association for the handling of death penalty cases," Louwlynn Vanzetta Williams said.
The office is seeking an additional $459,204 next budget year from the general fund, which would be a 35 percent increase over the current budget of approximately $1.3 million.
"Death row appeals agency needs more money," is AP coverage, via the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald.
The Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel, established by the Legislature in 2000, was designed to cut the appeal process to expedite death penalty cases.
Williams said over the years, the office has lost 13 staffers, who haven't been replaced.
"We are getting an increased case load and our staffing level is well below that that is required by the American Bar Association for the handling of death penalty cases," Williams said.
Williams said the office contracts out some cases because it doesn't have attorneys available, and other cases are given to private attorneys because the office may have a conflict, such as representing a co-defendant.