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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cali Supreme Court Seeks Amendment to Allow Death Penalty Appeals to Go to Appellate Courts Instead of Supreme Court

From ap.org: The State Supreme Court will seek an amendment to the California constitution that would change the death penalty appeals process to help ease the court's backlog of cases, the chief justice said.

Under the current system, death sentences are automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court.

The proposal would allow many cases to be handled by one of the state's six appeals courts, with the high court stepping in when a significant legal issue needs resolution or justices find another reason to review it.

The number of automatic death sentence appeals already threatens to overwhelm the Supreme Court's docket, making up about 20 percent of the court's caseload, Chief Justice Ronald M. George said.

"I don't want to pretend this is going to solve all the problems. But it will solve a big part of it," he said Monday.

The average wait for execution in the state is now 17.5 years. The backlog is likely to grow, considering the trend: Thirty people have been on death row for more than 25 years, 119 for more than 20 years and 408 for more than a decade. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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