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Minnesota Advocates Submits Comments to U.S. Department of Justice on Fast-track Procedures in Death Penalty Cases
9/24/2007 2:37 PM

The Justice Department is developing new regulations to give the U.S. Attorney General the authority to decide whether states are providing adequate representation for capital defendants and to approve “fast-track” procedures in death penalty cases. A “fast-track” case would shorten the time a death row inmate has to file a federal appeal after a conviction in a state court. For example, it would allow death row inmates only six months, instead of a year, to file appeals in federal courts. Also, federal judges would have less time to consider such petitions. This authority to approve “fast track” cases has been previously held by federal judges. The re-authorized USA PATRIOT Act, however, gives this power to Attorney General Gonzales to determine whether individual states are indeed providing adequate counsel to defendants and can be approved for “fast track” proceedings. The proposed regulations would implement this provision of the PATRIOT Act.  

The U.S. Department of Justice accepted public comment on the regulations until September 24, 2007. A pro bono team of attorneys, including Lisa Pritchard Bayley and Faegre & Benson attorneys William Callison, Dianne Heins, Eric Jorstad, Mara Garcia Kaplan, Brian McCormac, and Bob Schnell, reviewed and commented on the proposed regulations. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights submitted this analysis to the Department of Justice in a formal letter urging it not to adopt the regulations.  

To read the letter, please click here.