The Florida Supreme Court's Capital Postconviction Rules, issued July 3, are available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Florida Supreme Court revamps rules for death penalty appeals," is the Palm Beach Post report.
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved a series of changes aimed at improving the death-penalty appeals process, including revising requirements for attorneys handling cases.
Justices last year formed a subcommittee to look at the appeals system, a move that came as the Legislature targeted delays in carrying out the death penalty by passing a bill dubbed the “Timely Justice Act.”
The Supreme Court largely approved a series of rule changes that were proposed by the subcommittee and that deal with what are known as “post-conviction” appeals in death-penalty cases. The subcommittee took input from groups such as judges, prosecutors, public defenders and the governor’s office.
As an example of the revisions, justices approved additional requirements for lead attorneys in post-conviction appeals. Those attorneys, in part, will be required to have at least three years of experience in post-conviction litigation and also meet criteria for experience in handling capital cases.
"Justices Revamp Rules For Death Penalty Appeals" is by the News Service of Florida, via WFOR-TV.
Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry agreed on the rule decisions.
Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented on two issues, including a rule change that will prevent defendants from representing themselves in post-conviction proceedings.
Also from Florida, the Sunday South Florida Sun-Sentinel published an OpEd by journalist Jac Wilder VerSteeg, "Capital punishment provides no simple answers."
The reasons to spare killers who deserve to die have nothing to do with what that individual killer deserves. The reasons to stay the execution are for the benefit of individuals we don't know and might never know.
Here's the problem: Capital punishment is justified. But imposing capital punishment requires a 100 percent accuracy rate. Everyone can — or should — agree that the state only should execute a killer when it is 100 percent sure it has the right killer.
But there will be cases where the justice system is 100 percent sure and 100 percent wrong. The Innocence Project has documented 18 cases in which people served time on death row but later were exonerated. Check the organization's web site for a full list. Here's one case out of Broward County worth singling out:
"Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Florida's death row after serving 14 years for a murder and rape he didn't commit. He was cleared by DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project 11 months after his death."
Earlier coverage from Florida begins at the link.