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Death Delays

November 6th, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

Seven of the ten cases on the state Supreme Courts Oral Argument calendar this week deal with the death penalty. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, despite years of trying, there seems is no way to hurry an execution.

Hear it Here: Death Delays

There are 386 people on Florida’s Death Row. It is a number that changes little.

One estimate is that the Florida Supreme Court spends half it’s time on death cases, 70 percent this month on oral arguments. Many sentences are thrown out after lawyers argue correctly that inmates didn’t have a lawyer at trial who knew what they were doing. Attorney Harry Brody made the argument Tuesday morning. “The case just hasn’t been investigated and prepared below.” Brody told Justices.

In a rare interview, Chief Justice Fred Lewis says death cases are different and time consuming.
“But certainly, you can sense from working on them, that each of the death cases involves more issues than they typical Supreme Court case would contain.” Lewis says.

Make no mistake about it, there are few, if any, good guys whose cases get before this court. No one disputes that description of Gary Ray Bowles, yet his case has been through the Supreme Court twice.
Justice Charlie Wells noted “This man had been involved in six murders.”

The ACLU says attempts to speed up death cases don’t work because each change brings new challenges and delays that aren’t present in non death cases. But Larry Spalding says lawmakers are starting to show interest in examining other alternatives “The courts and legislatures are finding very, very troubling the number of people on death row who have been found to be innocent as a result of the DNA process.”

And with each release, the courts become more careful about allowing an execution, knowing if they are wrong, there is no second chance. Florida does have an execution scheduled for child rapist and killer Mark Schwab on November 15th, but most legal experts expect it to be stopped by the U-S Supreme Court.

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