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Bill Would Speed KS Death Penalty Appeals

Kris  Ailslieger - smallKris Ailslieger, with the Kansas attorney general's office, holds up a thick court document of the type he says can slow death penalty appeals. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

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 (ALE-sly-grr), 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.

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.

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.

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