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Harman’s bill on death row appeals’ expedition flatlined

January 16, 2008

A bill that State Sen. Tom Harman hoped would expedite the state’s death row appeals process was nixed in committee Tuesday, when a 2-2 committee vote along party lines rejected the bill.

Harman, who called the state’s system a “de facto moratorium” on the death penalty, said he felt the Democrats who voted against the bill did so to maintain the system’s often decades-long appeals process. Harman cited a shortage of qualified attorneys and other problems he said contributed to the long wait.

While attempts to contact the two senators who voted against the measure — Sens. Gilbert Cedillo (D — Los Angeles) and Don Perata (D — Berkeley) — were unsuccessful, Cedillo’s spokeswoman Xochitl Arellano said the senator thought the bill was “bad policy.”

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Harman will continue to work on death penalty reform, he said, including working on a proposal by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George that would allow appellate courts to hear death row appeals. Only the state Supreme Court can hear such arguments.

— Chris Caesar


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