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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.
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.
July 18, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
It was another bruising year for the liberal judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as the Supreme Court overturned the majority of their decisions, at times sharply criticizing their legal reasoning. Appeals from the nine Western states of the circuit dominated the high court's docket, as usual, supplying more than 30% of the 84 cases taken up by the justices during the term that ended last month. The Supreme Court reversed or vacated 19 of the 26 decisions it looked at from the 9th Circuit this judicial term, issuing especially pointed critiques of the court's handling of cases involving prisoners' rights and death row reprieves.
October 2, 2006
Re "Legal Battle Over Detainee Bill Is Likely," Sept. 29 This is one of the darkest days in the United States in my lifetime. It is shocking that 51 senators voted to give up the writ of habeas corpus. That's taking a 790-year step backward in civil rights. Conservatives claim to be strict constructionists, but only when it suits their purposes -- so it's all right to invade another country without a declaration of war, and it's all right to suspend the writ of habeas corpus even when we aren't being invaded and there is no rebellion.
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