Bill seeks to eliminate mini trials for capital murder trials - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Bill seeks to eliminate mini trials for capital murder trials

Senator Arthur Orr said it could save taxpayers across the state at least $1-million a year if it passes. Senator Arthur Orr said it could save taxpayers across the state at least $1-million a year if it passes.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Alabama Lawmakers hope to eliminate mini trials for capital murder trials with guilty pleas. The bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives, and it should head to the senate judiciary committee on Wednesday.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) of District 70.  He said he was inspired to sponsor the bill by the Amy Bishop Anderson mini trial.  He said it ties up the court system, and he wants to eliminate that. 

"I think the bill can certainly save us money in our court system," said Senator Arthur Orr.  "It also brings us in the norm among the other states across the country. Right now, Alabama is outside of the norm in requiring an extra level of hearings in these capital cases and it's quite expensive to the taxpayers."

The bill is aimed to eliminate mini trials for capital murder trials where a guilty plea has already been entered, citing their unnecessary expense to the state.

Orr said the prices of trials varies by year, but it could save taxpayers across the state at least $1-million a year if it passes.

"It saves in not only tax payers' dollars but also in our judicial resources where you are tying up a courtroom, a judge, a jury sometimes for weeks on end - all for a verdict that is pretty much a foregone conclusion when the defendant has plead guilty," he said. 

Amy Bishop Anderson and Jacob Shaffer both had mini trials after pleading guilty to their capital murder charges.

Attorney Mark McDaniel said mini trials are a constitutional safe guard.

"It is an expense, one that can be and should be averted," he said.   

McDaniel thinks the bill is a good one, but it could face some opposition.

"If this act is passed, it will be contested as unconstitutional and capital defendants will say they have been deprived of their rights to due process and equal protection of the law and the 14th amendment," McDaniel said.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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