Budget cuts threaten Ga. death row cases - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Budget cuts threaten Ga. death row cases

ATLANTA (AP) - Some Georgia death row inmates could lose their attorneys amid budget cuts that could potentially halt appeals hearings and even delay executions.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Sunday that there's two key reasons for the funding lapse: The steep decline in the real estate market and flagging support from Georgia lawmakers.

To make up for the gap, the Georgia Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center is poised to ask for more funding this legislative session to keep it from having to lay off attorneys and investigators. The 12-person nonprofit in Atlanta represents or helps to represent about 90% of the inmates on Georgia's death row.

The center's supporters warn that the funding crisis could threaten Georgia's capital punishment system. Atlanta attorney Rob Remar, who chairs the center's board, warns the system could "grind to a halt" if the center loses more employees.

"If the resource center loses more employees, it will have to take fewer cases, and there will be some inmates who are unrepresented," he said.

State lawmakers say they are aware of the problem.

"My feeling is we can be penny wise or pound foolish, because if we don't pay enough on the front end, we'll pay more in the back end," Republican state Rep. Jay Powell told the newspaper. "If appeals aren't properly handled, the cases drag on."

The center is suffering from a double punch in the down economy.

The Georgia Bar foundation has long provided grant money to the center through funding from interest-bearing accounts set up by lawyers to handle real estate transactions and other deals.

But the economic downturn means the foundation's collections have plummeted. As a result, the foundation's funding to the center dropped from more than $750,000 three years ago to nothing this year.

The Legislature had long been providing the resource center with $800,000 each year, but lawmakers cut the center's funding by more than $200,000 beginning in 2008.

Brian Kammer, the center's executive director, said he'll ask lawmakers to restore its funding to $800,000. He also said he's spent time writing grant proposals for additional funding and that he's also sought private donations.

The center's seven lawyers and four investigators take over cases after a death row inmate's direct appeals are completed. Georgia is the only state in the nation that doesn't guarantee counsel for death row inmates pursuing their habeas appeals due to a 1999 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court.

 

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Woman says deputies lied to get a warrant, then sexually assaulted her

    Woman says deputies lied to get a warrant, then sexually assaulted her

    Monday, April 23 2018 10:50 PM EDT2018-04-24 02:50:48 GMT

    A Catawba County woman says she has been the victim of harassment from the county’s sheriff’s office, who, records show, have executed multiple search warrants at her home in less than a year.  

    More >>

    A Catawba County woman says she has been the victim of harassment from the county’s sheriff’s office, who, records show, have executed multiple search warrants at her home in less than a year.  

    More >>
  • Texas man sentenced to 50 years for $1.2M theft of fajitas

    Texas man sentenced to 50 years for $1.2M theft of fajitas

    Monday, April 23 2018 2:18 PM EDT2018-04-23 18:18:31 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 11:52 AM EDT2018-04-24 15:52:30 GMT
    The Brownsville Herald reports Gilberto Escamilla told the court the fajita scheme spun out of control. (Source: gaudiikari/Wikicommons)The Brownsville Herald reports Gilberto Escamilla told the court the fajita scheme spun out of control. (Source: gaudiikari/Wikicommons)

    A Texas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years.

    More >>

    A Texas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years.

    More >>
  • Toronto driver charged with 10 counts of 1st degree murder

    Toronto driver charged with 10 counts of 1st degree murder

    Tuesday, April 24 2018 12:25 AM EDT2018-04-24 04:25:49 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 12:39 PM EDT2018-04-24 16:39:35 GMT
    (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP). Officials carry a body into a vehicle after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into pedestrians in Toronto on Monday, April 23, 2018. The rented van jumped onto the crowded sidewalk Monday, killing and i...(Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP). Officials carry a body into a vehicle after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into pedestrians in Toronto on Monday, April 23, 2018. The rented van jumped onto the crowded sidewalk Monday, killing and i...

    Police in Canada's biggest city are piecing together witness accounts and surveillance video trying to determine why a driver plowed a rented van along a crowded sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in what...

    More >>

    Police in Canada's biggest city are piecing together witness accounts and surveillance video trying to determine why a driver plowed a rented van along a crowded sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in what many said seemed a deliberate attack.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly