July 29th, 2009
A new law in Texas will create a state office to handle the appeals of death row inmates. The office was created in response to a series of well publicized scandals which brought international attention to the subpar representation of capital offense appeals. Texas, unlike other states with capital punishment, had not used the public defender’s office to handle the habeus corpus writs for their capital offenders, but instead had hired outside attorneys who often missed deadlines or wrote “skeletal writs”. The new office will have a budget of a million dollars and a staff of nine, but its services will not be available to those capital inmates who have already used up their appeals. The Office of Capital Writs is expected to handle approximately ten appeals a year.
The Houston Chronicle: State to handle capital appeals