Horne sues Feds for delays in capital cases - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Horne sues Feds for delays in capital cases

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Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is suing the Federal Justice Department for undue delay in handling Arizona's request for accelerated status in processing capital punishment appeals.

Arizona amended its capital case procedures years ago to meet Congress' requirements for accelerated status, but Horne said the Justice Department's failure to act has deprived Arizona of the benefits Congress intended in the form of streamlined procedures.

Statistics indicate that the average delay between verdict and execution in capital cases in the Ninth Circuit that covers Arizona is an average of 18 years, the Arizona attorney general's office said.

Acceleration status would require that the Federal District Court act within 450 days and the Court of Appeals act within 120 days of the filing of the last reply brief. This could shave around 10 years off the delay, Horne estimated.  

"The system must be reformed so that families of victims can see justice done in a reasonable period of time," Horne said.

Congress passed an act providing that states that passed certain requirements could have an accelerated system. Arizona met those requirements, Horne said. 

The Obama administration canceled rules adopted by the Bush administration, saying it would adopt its own. Four and a half years have passed and those rules have still not been adopted, Horne said. 

Horne is filing a notice of appeal Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Arizona will seek judicial review of the Justice Department's failure to act.

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