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What Would People Think?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Because America Wasn't Killing Enough People As It Is....

The Senate Judiciary Committee - those fun-loving folks that brought you the John Roberts Confirmation Platitudes - have another trick up their sleeves: the so-called Streamlined Procedures Act.

I've blogged about it before here and the Washington Post editorialized about it last Thursday here. There's plenty there for you to realize what a pointless, harmful bill this is. But just a run-down of the facts:

- Criminal defendants convicted in state courts currently have the right to seek habeas corpus - federal review of their state court conviction to see if there was a constitutional error in the trial.

- Between 1976 and 1991, federal courts found error in 47% of death penalty convictions.

- Congress limited the right to habeas appeal in the mid-1990s with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

- No major reform of the criminal justice system has happened since then, leading me to believe the system is as error-prone as ever.

- Congress is considering limiting habeas appeal rights even further with the Streamlined Procedures Act.

- The Judicial Conference - the administrative arm of the federal judiciary - opposes the bill. Apparently federal judges do not feel they are being overwhelmed with frivolous appeals in death penalty cases.

- The national organization of state court chief justices opposes the bill. Apparently, state judges don't feel this is an area where the federal judiciary is butting into the states' business.

So....why is this bill even being considered? I guess its sponsors must agree with the title of this blog entry.

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