Saturday, December 17, 2005

First, we kill all the lawyers 
From the New York Times:

Though the Supreme Court has prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded, a Texas death row inmate who may be retarded cannot raise the issue in federal court because his lawyer missed a filing deadline, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The inmate, Marvin Lee Wilson, has "made a prima facie showing of mental retardation," a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit wrote in an unsigned decision on Tuesday, meaning the court presumed Mr. Wilson to be retarded for purposes of its ruling.

But the panel said it was powerless to consider the case because Mr. Wilson's lawyer filed papers concerning his retardation in a federal trial court without first obtaining required permission from the appeals court, which he did not seek until a deadline had expired.

"However harsh the result may be," the panel said, its hands are tied by deadlines established in a 1996 federal law, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The same law now forbids Mr. Wilson, convicted of killing a police informant, to appeal the Fifth Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, the court is right -- unless it wants to strike down the deadline as unconstitutional due to its arbitrariness. But you have to have some deadlines. This is why we have elected officials. It is quite properly the role of the governor to commute this man's sentence, or for the legislature to pass a law extending the deadline, or specifically pass a resolution calling for judicial review of the case.

Splash, out


The Governor of Texas can't commute a death penalty, without it first being recommended by the Board of Pardons and Parole. This is because of the corruption of the Ferguson Administrations (Ma and Pa).
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