The Arizona Republic reports, "Horne may sue over habeas corpus," by Lindsey Collom.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is threatening to sue the Obama administration over delays in habeas corpus proceedings that he says routinely and unnecessarily prolong the death penalty from being carried out in the state.
Horne contends that Arizona qualifies for expedited federal habeas corpus, a writ ordering a person in custody to be brought before a court, because its system for appointing defense counsel meets criteria set in federal law. But some legal experts say Horne’s timing is off and his argument ill-founded because the Department of Justice has yet to create a mechanism to determine a state’s eligibility.
In a letter issued Thursday, Horne gave U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a 90-day deadline to respond to his request that Arizona be certified to take advantage of expedited federal review of capital cases as guaranteed in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The act was designed in part to streamline federal appeals for convicted criminals sentenced to death. The expedited review is eligible to states that provide qualified, well-compensated attorneys to death-row inmates moving through the appeals process.
Dale A. Baich, an assistant federal public defender who represents death-row prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings, said the cases deserve careful attention from the courts. “These cases are very complex and very serious, and the federal courts need to give each case the consideration that’s due,” Baich said.
"Horne plans to sue Federal Government if they don't expedite capital cases," is by Andrew Michalscheck of AZ Family.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced Thursday that he plans to sue the Federal Government if they don’t expedite their handling of capital cases.
Horne said he will file a lawsuit if the government doesn’t approve within 90 days Arizona’s application to qualify for expedited review of capital cases.
Horne notes that it’s important to not force the families of victims to suffer while they wait for justice to be done.
“The studies show that families suffer from something like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and can heal faster if they see justice done within a reasonable period of time,” said Horne. “If they are victimized a second time by endless delays in the Federal Courts, that adds to their pain.”
Horne points out that in the last seven capital cases Federal Habeas Corpus has delayed justice being done by 10 to 13 years.
Horne's letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Arizona AG Takes A Momentous Step Toward An Effective Death Penalty," is Kent Scheidegger's post at the Crime and Consequences blog.
In 2006, Congress amended the law. It took the decision on qualification away from the courts subject to the time limits -- which have a conflict of interest -- and gave it to the Attorney General with de novo review by Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the one federal circuit that does not do state-prisoner habeas cases. In addition, Congress expressly provided that the requirements in the statute are the only requirements for qualification. Neither the AG nor the court can make up additional requirements. Finally, in a seemingly innocuous provision, Congress directed the AG to "promulgate regulations to implement the certification procedure ...." Congress did not authorize regulations to impose additional requirements for certification, obviously, having expressly forbidden any additions.
The Justice Department under President Bush, preoccupied with terrorism-related issues, put the regulations on the back burner, and did not promulgate them until that Administration was on its way out the door. President Obama's Justice Department rescinded them and has dithered ever since. The dithering is not over the rules of procedure the statute actually authorizes DoJ to make but rather over the rules of substance that Congress has forbidden DoJ to make.
Related posts are in the AEDPA index.