Court Ruling Benefits Condemned Inmates Who Miss Deadline


The US Supreme Court has made it easier for some death row inmates to overcome a one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal appeal of their capital sentence, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The high court ruled 7 to 2 on Monday that under certain extraordinary circumstances courts should allow an appeal to be filed even after the one-year deadline has expired. The decision came in the case of Florida death row inmate Albert Holland, who lost his right to file a federal appeal of his death sentence when his lawyer missed the one-year deadline established under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).

In another ruling issue Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that judges can order restitution payments in criminal cases even after a 90-day deadline has expired. At issue in the case was how to interpret the federal statute that authorizes the imposition of restitution payments, and which includes the provision of the 90-day deadline. The court split 5 to 4 in the decision. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer embraced a flexible view of the statute. He stressed that as long as a judge made clear that restitution would be part of the sentence, the judge could take longer than 90 days to impose that penalty.

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