Kansas Statehouse
8:09 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Bill Would Speed Kansas Death Penalty Appeals

Death penalty appeals in Kansas could speed up under a bill before a Senate committee. There are currently rules limiting the length of court documents and setting deadlines for the process to move forward, but they often aren't followed. The bill would enforce those rules.

Kris Ailslieger, with the attorney general's office, held up a court document more than an inch thick. He says lengthy court briefs and delays often extend the process.

“This, to me, this is intentional. This is calculated to delay. By enforcing the rules, criminal defendants will not have a tool to delay these proceedings,” said Ailslieger.

But Sarah Johnson, a defense attorney who has worked on death penalty appeals, says the cases are very complex and a lot of time is needed to prepare. She says the bill could make it harder to mount a defense.

“You’re hampering my client’s ability to receive all of his due process rights, to which the Constitution entitles him,” Johnson said. 

Some opponents argue that speeding up the process would give fewer opportunities to find problems and could leave a greater chance for an innocent person to be executed. The committee is also considering legislation that would abolish the state's death penalty.

Votes on the two bills could come next week.