The Utah attorney general's office is pushing a bill this year that would compensate defense attorneys for representing death penalty defendants on appeal.
But the goal of the legislation is not to slow the process down. Indeed, it's part of a concerted national and state effort to streamline capital punishment."The end result is that we expect to see these cases move much more quickly, providing all of the pieces fall into place," said Assistant Utah Attorney General Chris Soltis.
The Utah Post Conviction Remedy Act, House Bill 214, would appropriate $200,000 to attorneys who handle petitions for writs of habeas corpus for capital defendants in state courts. Up to now, those cases have been handled for free by a relatively small group of volunteer attorneys.
If passed, it will go hand-in-hand with federal reforms proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee.