A recent study of capital cases in Texas shows that nine death row inmates lost their appeals due to the failure of counsel to file by the court deadline. Johnny Ray Johnson was put to death after his lawyers missed a filing deadline by one day. He is one of six such inmates put to death after missed deadlines.
The six executed prisoners are Johnny Ray Johnson: Executed Feb. 12, 2009; Willie Marcel Shannon: Executed Nov. 8, 2006; Robert Andrew Lookingbill: Executed Jan. 22, 2003, Leonard Uresti Rojas: Executed Dec. 4, 2002; Spencer Corey Goodman: Executed Jan. 18, 2000; Andrew Cantu Tzin: Executed Feb. 16, 1999.
Three more inmates are pending execution after losing appeals over late filings.
I can certainly understand barring counsel from future capital cases for missing such deadlines if there is no excuse. However, it seems unjust to deny a death penalty appeal because it is one day late given the gravity of the matter. Deterrence can be achieved by addressing the mistake of counsel. Indeed, there has been a move to remove Judge Sharon Keller in Texas who ordered a clerk’s office closed before an after-hours death appeal could be filed.
In the meantime, prosecutors appear to be having the same problems in managing their calendars. In Montana,
Bianca Wilson was charged with deliberate homicide in the September 2004 shooting of 30-year-old Justin Marchant, but District Judge Blair Jones ruled that prosecutors could not refile the charge because they violated her constitutional right to a speedy trial, here
For the full story, click here.