/ March 23, 2009

Nine Death Row Inmates in Texas Lost Appeals Due to Late Attorneys

The federal (constitutional) writ of habeas corpus is the last chance for inmates to have errors reviewed.  Nine death row inmates (six of whom have already been executed) lost have lost these appeals due to lawyers or judges who miscalculated/misunderstood the deadlines and “computer failures or human foible.” Essentially, these attorneys waived the last constitutionally required review before Texas imposes the death sentence.  Plus, recently, federal courts have overturned several capital cases in Texas.

One lawyer waited until the last moment to file the appeal and then blamed malfunctioning filing machines for his tardiness.  Then, he did it again with another client.  Both were executed in Texas. 

James Marcus, of the University of Texas School of Law, says that this is the equivalent of “sleeping through the trial.”  The Texas Attorney General’s Office continues have the cases dismissed.

Source: Houston Chronicle and ABA Journal

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