“Everyone on death row has a lawyer [either through a CCR office or the registry] for the first time ever.” Panel told every death row inmate now has a lawyer October 1, 2000 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News The commission is getting detailed information from the CCR offices that allows tracking of cases and expenses. As noted by Berberich and others, the time has been significantly reduced in retrieving necessary records because of the legislature’s investment in improved technology. “They are holding the hearings and they are filing the motions [in death appeals],” Burt said. “Cases are moving through the system faster than ever.” He also pointed to the report at the meeting that another five cases are ready for the Governor’s review. That’s in addition to the five executions that have been held this year — the most in any recent year. (In 1999, when there was a moratorium for part of the year because of a challenge to electrocution as the method of execution, there was one inmate put to death. That compares to four in 1998, one in 1997 and two in 1996.) Burt said Florida’s success may have national implications. He noted that ABA President Martha Barnett has called for a moratorium on executions because of perceived problems in the system. “I think as the discussion on a moratorium continues, you will see Florida used as a model [of how the system can proceed expeditiously while protecting inmates rights],” he said. Panel told every death row inmate now has a lawyer Senior Editor It isn’t the kind of news that grabs headlines, but the Commission on Capital Cases recently reviewed information that showed that death penalty appeals are being handled with fewer problems and unnecessary delays. And for the first time ever, every death row inmate has an attorney. While much of the year has been marked by rhetoric of legislators critical of the courts for various death penalty issues, the commission, which has both lawmakers and judges as members, has been working to end the gridlock on capital appeals. At its September 8 meeting, it heard evidence that delays and administrative problems are being overcome. All three regional capital collateral representatives reported holding more hearings this year than last and fewer delays in scheduling hearings, preparing briefs and motions, and other work factors. Roger Maas, executive director for the commission, also reported that private attorneys hired to handle overflow cases are hard at work. All but one has filed the initial Rule 3.850 petitions or got court permission for an extension to file. In the single exception, nothing was done and that attorney has been replaced, he said. The state has a total of 123 private attorneys on its “registry” who are willing to handle overflow cases from the regional counsels, Maas said, but 70 of those attorneys don’t have any cases. He said the large number was recruited because of an anticipated dual track system of handling direct and collateral appeals simultaneously. But the state law creating that system was struck down as unconstitutional (for other reasons), and the Supreme Court’s proposed dual track rules were put on hold after several objections were filed. Maas also reported that while the state budgeted $22,500 for private attorneys to file 3.850 motions, the actual cost so far has averaged $16,000. Another major time savings in the system has been improved records retrieval. The legislature approved a central repository for records that are required on collateral appeals, and approved equipment to record the documents on CD-ROM disks. CCR offices have also been provided with high-tech CD readers and high-speed printers for accessing the information. Commission member and state Rep. Sally Heymann, D-North Miami Beach, noted that records now can be retrieved in one to three days instead of the months it used to take. “This is responsiveness on legislative action where we put money in to expedite this,” she said. Jim Berberich, director of the Department of State’s Bureau of Archives and Records Management, where the records are stored, said his office has conducted training courses for CCR staff and others who need access to the records. He added that before the end of September, the bureau would be online with the various offices that need the records. “Things really have improved,” Berberich said, noting it was about two years since the legislature approved the central repository for the records. Commission members expressed approval at the improvements. “The commission is pleased with the response and the handling of the cases,” said former Supreme Court Justice and commission Chair Parker Lee McDonald. “Absolutely,” said commission member and Sen. Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach, when asked if delays were being reduced in the appeals. While it may be a while before the public sees a reduction in the time between sentencing and execution, Burt ticked off a number of refinements:
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “It’s a little different now,” he said of being out and about. “A lot of people, I guess they know who I am now. Going to eat by yourself is a little different.”Young likely doneForward Nick Young has missed the past 20 games with a fractured knee cap. Scott said he had no update on Young, but he did suggest it’s doubtful Young will play again this season.“My feeling really is that with seven games left, he probably won’t play the rest of the season,” Scott said. “The last report that I did get on him, which was when we were on the road, he wasn’t really making much progress.“So being out as long as he’s been out with seven games to go, I don’t really see how he could probably play. He’d have to get back in game condition and things like that, so I don’t think there is a chance that he is going to play in the next week or so.”That said, Scott said Young needs to improve for next season. He pulled no punches in that regard.“His priorities have to be a little different,” Scott said. “I consider Nick either a home run or a strikeout-type guy on the offensive end. Just like I told him, he has to elevate his game. He has to grow as a basketball player if he wants to continue to play in this league for a long time. He has to get better moving without the ball, being able to defend people a little bit better and be a better off-the-ball defender as well.“There are areas in his game that he has to improve. And if he doesn’t, there’s no telling what we’re going to do this year in the free-agent market. But if we get the guys we want, then he’s got a challenge next year on his hands as far as being in that rotation and playing consistent minutes.”Scouting the ClippersScott gave Clippers point guard Chris Paul a rave review when asked about Sunday’s matchup.“Chris Paul is probably the best leader in this league and he’s probably the most competitive guy I’ve ever been around,” said Scott, who coached Paul at New Orleans. “He’s going to bring an attitude.”The Clippers are 50-26, the Lakers 20-55. There isn’t much not to like about Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson.After Friday’s 107-77 loss to Portland, during which Clarkson scored a game-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting with seven assists and five rebounds, coach Byron Scott told reporters that Clarkson will definitely be with the team next season as the Lakers hold an option on him for 2015-16 for a mere $845,059.Scott also said he didn’t know for certain Clarkson would be at the point, depending on what happens in the draft and possible acquisitions, and that he wanted to get some other pieces around Clarkson.“I mean, it’s definitely good to hear that,” Clarkson said Saturday at practice in preparation for the team’s game Sunday night at 6:30 against the Clippers. “I’ve gotta continue to work, continue to progress.” How’s this for progress? Clarkson, who has now started 32 games, averages 11.2 points on the season. But he has averaged 20.6 points, 6.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds the past five games. He averaged 15.8 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 16 games in March.Here’s where it gets good. In spite of that success and his coach’s comments, Clarkson is taking nothing for granted.“I’ll play for my spot on the team next year,” he said.Fast-rising adorationUpon being asked, Clarkson humbly acknowledged that his popularity is growing in Los Angeles.