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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Virginia: Federal Appeals Court Declines to Halt Ivan Teleguz's Execution

Ivan Teleguz
Ivan Teleguz
A federal appeals court has refused to put a Virginia death row inmate's execution on hold so he can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to put a Virginia death row inmate's execution on hold so he can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued an order Thursday declining the request from Ivan Teleguz, who is scheduled to be executed April 25.

Teleguz, who is from Ukraine, was sentenced to death in 2006 for hiring a man to kill Stephanie Sipe, the mother of his child.

She was stabbed to death in her Harrisonburg apartment, and prosecutors said Teleguz wanted get out of paying child support.

He has maintained his innocence, and two key prosecution witnesses have recanted since his conviction.

An appeals court in 2012 ordered a hearing on his innocence claim, but a judge refused to overturn his conviction after one of the witnesses who recanted refused to testify and the other didn’t show up.

In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Teleguz, who argued that his 2006 trial attorneys were inadequate because they introduced testimony that Teleguz was involved in another killing that he says never happened.

Teleguz asked the 4th Circuit last week to stay his execution so the high court could review his argument that he was denied the right to effective counsel.

His attorneys said in a statement that Teleguz will now petition Gov. Terry McAuliffe to grant him clemency.

Source: Associated Press, March 16, 2017

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