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News Scan

Arizona Seeks to Expedite Death Penalty Appeals: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has filed a notice of appeal in order to gain backing for his request to expedite federal court review of death penalty cases in his state.  The Associated Press reports that the state is asking the Justice Department to allow them to participate in a program that would enforce faster federal court action in death penalty appeals.  On average, death penalty appeals in the western U.S. take almost 20 years to be resolved before an execution can take place.  See also Kent's post earlier today.

Michigan Ends Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles: Juveniles convicted of murder in Michigan will now get the chance of being paroled after the state's previous mandatory life sentence for convicted murderers, regardless of their age, was overruled by a federal judge.  The Associated Press reports that the issue now, is whether or not Michigan will apply the law retroactively or limit the ruling to future cases.  Last year, in Miller v. Alabama the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life terms murderers under 18 was cruel and unusual punishment.

Florida Death Row Inmate Declared Sane for Execution: Despite an attempt to avoid death by lethal injection due to insanity, the Florida State Supreme Court has approved the execution of Marshall Lee Gore.  Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida reports that the court found Gore, who was convicted of murdering two women in 1988, was pretending to believe he was being executed so that the state could harvest his organs.  Gore's attorneys filed a brief last month claiming that his execution would be unconstitutional based on the Eighth Amendment.   

Tough on Crime Policies Beginning to Fade Away: Two developments yesterday, one involving the Attorney General's announcement on mandatory federal drug sentencing laws and the other a federal judge's decision to block New York's stop-and-frisk policy, may be an indication that tough on crime policies in the U.S. are beginning to dissipate.  Charlie Savage and Erica Goode of The New York Times report that while the timing of both announcements yesterday was a coincidence, it is a sign that legislators are seeking several different avenues in order to alleviate prison overcrowding throughout our country.  CJLF President Michael Rushford, and law professor and former federal prosecutor William Otis were guests on KQED Radio this morning, and can be heard here giving their opinion on the Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement yesterday to avoid enforcement of federal mandatory drug sentencing laws. 

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