Tightening Noose

The court limits death-row appeals based on late claims of innocence

CLEARING THE LEGAL OBSTACLES BLOCKING THE WAY to the execution chamber has been one of the top priorities of the current U.S. Supreme Court. In its latest move to end sometimes seemingly endless death-row litigation, the court ruled 6 to 3 that a convict who offers last-minute evidence of innocence, after already exhausting appeals, has no automatic right to a federal hearing before being executed.

The decision, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, conceded "for the sake of argument" that a "truly persuasive demonstration" of innocence might warrant federal review, but Leonel Torres Herrera did not meet even that hypothetical test....

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