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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Prosecutors urge court to set second execution date for Ohio inmate who survived first attempt

Romell Broom, shortly after the failed execution attempt
Romell Broom, shortly after the failed execution attempt
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Cuyahoga County prosecutors are urging the Ohio Supreme Court to schedule a second execution for Romell Broom, whose 2009 death by lethal injection was botched.

Romell Broom, convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in 1987, has "successfully stalled his execution" by creating a bottleneck of appeals that lasted seven years and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, prosecutors said in a motion filed Monday afternoon.

"At some point, this Court must declare that the debate is over; that finality has attached; and that the parents of Tryna Middleton have waited long enough for justice," assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Christopher Schroeder said.

Broom's lawyers have not responded to the motion.

Broom became the first person in Ohio to survive an execution attempt when, in 2009, executioners couldn't find a vein sturdy enough to hold up as they injected a lethal drug cocktail into his blood.

Death row staff spent two hours poking Broom with needles so many times that the puncture wounds became swollen and bruised. One needle inserted by the prison doctor struck a bone. Broom cried out in pain several times, according to court records.

Since then, Broom's lawyers have argued that trying to execute him a second time would amount to double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected that claim, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear the case in December.

Broom's lawyers petitioned the court to revisit the case. That was also denied in February.

Broom has an appeal on the same claims pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. But, prosecutors say, the Ohio Supreme Court should not wait until a decision in that court to set Broom's death date.

Schroeder pointed out in the brief that the Court has already scheduled executions in every month into the year 2020, so Broom's execution is still likely years away.

"Seven years of appeals on the same issue is enough," Schroeder said in Monday's filing.

Source: cleveland.com, Cory Shaffer, March 14, 2017

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