Court gives green light to death penalty fast-tracking

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has cleared the way for the Department of Justice to allow states to have their inmates’ death penalty appeals expedited through federal court.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday legal organizations that challenged the DOJ’s criteria for certifying states for the fast-track program lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The fast-track program would require inmates to file petitions in federal court faster and courts to also issue rulings faster.

Supporters say the program could take years off the death penalty appeals process, giving crime victims faster justice. Opponents say it would force attorneys representing death penalty inmates to scramble to file appeals, possibly leading some cases to be neglected.

At least one state, Arizona, has asked the DOJ to certify it for the fast-track program.