SB187

ENGROSSED

By Senators Ward, Reed, Dial, Holley, Scofield, Albritton, Shelnutt, Livingston, Stutts and Waggoner

A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

Relating to appeals of capital punishment; to provide that Rule 32.2(c) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure shall apply only to non-death penalty cases; to provide a specific time frame for an appellant to file petitions for post-conviction remedies in death penalty cases; to require appellants to pursue direct appellate remedies and post-conviction remedies under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure concurrently; to require the trial court judge in death penalty cases to appoint appellate counsel for both direct appeal and post-conviction remedies within a specified time; to prohibit consideration of petitions for post-conviction relief or writs within a specified time after the direct appeal has concluded; and to provide that properly filed petitions for post-conviction relief under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure that are still pending at the time of the conclusion of direct appeal and affirmation of death sentence may be considered for a specified amount of time.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Fair Justice Act."

Section 2. (a) Rule 32.2(c) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure shall not apply to cases in which a criminal defendant is convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, and files a petition for post-conviction relief under the grounds specified in Rule 32.1(a), (e), or (f) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(b) Post-conviction remedies sought pursuant to Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure in death penalty cases shall be pursued concurrently and simultaneously with the direct appeal of a case in which the death penalty was imposed. In all cases where the defendant is deemed indigent or as the trial judge deems appropriate, the trial court, within 30 days of the entry of the order pronouncing the defendant's death sentence, shall appoint the defendant a separate counsel for the purposes of post-conviction relief under this act.

(c) The Alabama Supreme Court and the Alabama State Bar Association shall maintain a list of attorneys admitted to practice law in the state who are qualified to serve as post-conviction counsel. In establishing such a list, the supreme court and the bar association shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

(1) The attorney's background.

(2) The attorney's criminal appellate experience and training.

(3) An assessment by the supreme court and the bar association as to whether the attorney is competent to provide quailty legal representation.

(d) A circuit court shall not entertain a petition for post-conviction relief from a case in which the death penalty was imposed on the grounds specified in Rule 32.1(a) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure unless the petition, including any amendments to the petition, is filed within 365 days of the filing of the appellant defendant's first brief or direct appeal of a case in which the death penalty was imposed pursuant to the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(e) A circuit court, before the filing date applicable to the defendant under subsection (c), for good cause shown and after notice and an opportunity to be heard from the Attorney General, or other attorney representing the State of Alabama, may grant one 90-day extension that begins on the filing date applicable to the defendant under subsection (c).

(f) Within 90 days of the filing of the state's answer to a properly filed petition for post-conviction relief, the circuit court shall issue an order setting forth those claims in the petition that should be summarily dismissed and those claims, if any, that should be set for an evidentiary hearing. If the properly filed petition for post-conviction relief is still pending at the time of the issuance of the certificate of judgment on direct appeal, the court in which the petition is pending shall issue a final order on the petition or appeal within 180 days.

(g) If post-conviction counsel files an untimely petition or fails to file a petition before the filing date applicable under this act, the circuit court shall direct post-conviction counsel to show good cause demonstrating extraordinary circumstances as to why the petition was not properly filed. After post-conviction counsel's response, the circuit court may do any of the following:

(1) Find that good cause has been shown and permit counsel to continue representing the defendant and set a new filing deadline for the petition, which may not be more than 30 days from the date the court permits counsel to continue representation.

(2) Find that good cause has not been shown and dismiss any untimely filed petition.

(3) Appoint new and different counsel to represent the defendant and establish a new filing deadline for the petition, which may not be more than 270 days after the date the circuit court appoints new counsel. In the instance that this subdivision is applicable and new counsel is appointed, the circuit court in which the petition is pending shall issue a final order on the petition or appeal within 180 days of the filing of the petition.

(h) The time for filing a petition for post-conviction relief under Rule 32.1(f) in a case in which the death penalty was imposed shall be six months from the date the petitioner discovers the dismissal or denial, irrespective of the deadlines specified in this act. This provision shall not extend the deadline of a previously filed petition under Rule 32.1 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(i) Any petition for post-conviction relief filed pursuant to this act after the filing date that is applicable to the defendant under this act is untimely. Rule 32.7(b) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure shall not apply to any amendments to a petition for post-conviction relief filed pursuant to this act after the filing date that is applicable to the defendant under this act. Any amendments to a petition for post-conviction relief filed pursuant to this act filed after the filing date that is applicable to the defendant under this act shall be treated as a successive petition under Rule 32.2(b) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(j) The circuit court shall not entertain a petition in a case in which the death penalty has been imposed based on the grounds specified in Rule 32.1(e) of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure unless the petition for post-conviction relief is filed within the time period specified in subsection (c) or (d), or within six months after the discovery of the newly discovered material facts, whichever is later.

Section 3. This act shall apply to any defendant who is sentenced to death after the effective date of this act.

Section 4. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.


Crimes and Offenses
Criminal Law and Procedure
Capital Offenses
Courts
Appeals
Capital Punishment
Popular Names