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With little fanfare, Congress is poised this week to approve a fundamental change in the Habeas Corpus Act and to strip federal judges of most of their power to review the cases of state death-row inmates. The legal changes--long sought by state prosecutors and the families of murder victims--are attached to an anti-terrorism bill that Republican leaders hope to pass by Friday, the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
January 27, 2005 | John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer
The government Wednesday unveiled a sweeping set of proposals restricting the activities of anyone in Britain deemed to pose a strong terrorist threat. Detailed in Parliament by Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the measures may include putting electronic tags on suspects, curfews, house arrests and bans on the use of telephones or the Internet. Under the proposals, it would not be necessary to charge the suspects or prove they had committed a crime.
October 18, 2006 | David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
The military tribunals bill signed by President Bush on Tuesday marks the first time the right of habeas corpus has been curtailed by law for millions of people in the United States. Although debate focused on trials at Guantanamo Bay, the new law also takes away from noncitizens in the U.S. -- including more than 12 million permanent residents -- the right to go to court if they are declared "unlawful enemy combatants."
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, reviewing the history of civil liberties during wartime, said Friday that the courts are inclined to bend the law in the government's favor during a time of hostilities. ''One is reminded of the Latin maxim, inter arma silent leges. In time of war, the laws are silent,'' Rehnquist said in a speech to federal judges meeting in Williamsburg, Va.
December 4, 2005 | Cheryl Wittenauer, Associated Press Staff Writer
Attorney Joanne Descher was practicing securities law when she first learned she had been appointed to represent a Missouri death row inmate in his federal appeals of two first-degree murder convictions. She had no experience in the highly specialized body of law and procedure surrounding habeas corpus petitions, the crux of her client Marlin Gray's federal appeal. But she dived into the case in April 1995, found mentors and speed-learned the law.
June 20, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then, according to a comprehensive analysis of the death penalty's costs. The examination of state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases, conducted over three years by a senior federal judge and a law professor, estimated that the additional costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation for the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year.
The epiphany of Charles R.B. Kirk came 26 years ago. He had been a prosecutor for seven years, toiling in the San Francisco division of the state attorney general's office, and he was agonizing about his career choice. As he headed across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toward Marin County, he felt overcome with the failure he saw everywhere: the broken homes, broken lives and broken bodies. He was deep into his gloomy reverie when he saw San Quentin prison, home of California's death row.
November 27, 2010 | By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
Thirteen years ago, Edward Patrick Morgan asked the California Supreme Court for a lawyer to investigate and challenge his 1996 death sentence for a murder in Orange County. The court has yet to find Morgan an attorney. The inability of the state to recruit lawyers for post-conviction challenges, or habeas corpus petitions, has caused a major bottleneck in the state's criminal justice system. Nearly half of those condemned to die in California are awaiting appointment of counsel for these challenges.
October 26, 2011 | By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew Grossman
On the September night that the state of Georgia put Troy Davis to death, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the Supreme Court in Washington to protest America's continued practice of capital punishment. But they were in the wrong place. The protesters should have assembled 600 miles southeast, in Atlanta. The Constitution does not empower the Supreme Court to proscribe capital punishment or to regulate it out of existence, and those who ignore that point have made it increasingly expensive and less effective.
June 10, 2009 | John Van de Kamp, John Van de Kamp served as district attorney of Los Angeles County from 1976 to 1982 and as attorney general of California from 1983 to 1991.
There are many reasons why people object to the death penalty. Opponents point to the ever-present risk of wrongful conviction. They note that there's bias against people of color and low-income defendants, as well as geographic disproportionality in its administration. And there's the fact that most other civilized societies around the world have concluded that it should be abolished. But these days, there's also a strong economic argument for doing away with capital punishment.
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