Lawyers Seek New Rules for Death Row Clients

In a letter sent to the Missouri Supreme Court this week, four law professors are calling on the high court to adopt new rules for attorneys who represent death penalty clients.   One of their requests is to limit the number of clients under death warrant that any one attorney could be required to represent in a six-month time frame.

The lawyers note that the accelerated rate of executions (13 in the last 16 months) has put tremendous stress on a handful of attorneys that represent most of those men.  In fact, one attorney has represented 5 of the 9 men recently executed and has 2 other imminent risk clients. The lawyers note that adequately representing these clients requires action on a variety of legal issues that take considerable time and emotional resources.

Other requests to the court include setting a minimum notice of six months for an execution date and that lawyers are able to prioritize caseloads to concentrate on clients with imminent dates while having more time for other cases.  Without these rules lawyers cannot provide their clients with competent representation.

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