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ABA calls for death penalty moratorium in Alabama

[JURIST] The American Bar Association [group website] death penalty assessment team [ABA materials] recommended a moratorium on the death penalty in Alabama in a report [DOC text; executive summary, DOC] released Sunday that cited major flaws in the state's administration of capital punishment [JURIST news archive]. The assessment team, composed of Alabama lawyers who are both prosecutors and defense attorneys, studied the state's death penalty system for approximately 20 months before releasing the report, which Alabama Attorney General Troy King [official website] accused of "liberal, activist" bias. The report, which only recommends a moratorium until due process standards can be fixed, identified several problems [ABA fact sheet, DOC] including inadequate and inconsistent court-appointed representation, limited access to DNA testing, and no implementation of the US Supreme Court ruling against executing the mentally retarded. The ABA hopes that the report will encourage the legislature to impose a moratorium until it can reform the capital punishment system when it convenes later this year.

The Alabama assessment is one of several being conducted by the ABA and an assessment panel has also identified problems with Georgia's death penalty practices [ABA materials]. In January, the Georgia assessment team also recommended a moratorium [JURIST report] on capital punishment until flaws could be corrected, but Georgia officials suggested that the legislature had no plans to reform [JURIST report] the state's system. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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