TX Court Sets Standards For Death-Row Appeals


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, under criticism for tolerating shoddy appeals filed on behalf of death row inmates, puts new rules into effect tomorrow to begin weeding out attorneys whose work falls below professional standards, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The court now will be able to sanction lawyers who submit sloppy, lazy, inferior death-row appeals. The newspaper calls the move “a significant shift for the nine-member court.”

The court had no mechanism to identify poorly performing lawyers or to remove them from a court-run list of attorneys eligible to submit, at state or county expense, writs of habeas corpus for death row inmates. An Austin American-Statesman review of the appeals system found that the court tolerated lawyers who regularly submitted writs that were incomplete, unintelligible, or improperly argued. The situation has persisted despite an 11-year-old state law requiring the court to ensure that death row inmates receive competent legal help for their appeals. Under rules adopted unanimously, a majority of judges can remove a lawyer from the habeas list for any writ that exhibits “substandard proficiency.”

Link: http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/12/12/12habeas.html

Comments are closed.