An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, by Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)

By Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)

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Extra resources for An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, and Federalism

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48 The deadline may be especially hard for prisoners in states where there is no guarantee of the right to an attorney for habeas appeals. The clock will tick toward the deadline while he waits to see if a lawyer will volunteer to represent him. In effect, AEDPA reduces the docket of the federal appeals courts by cutting off the routes available to prisoners who have claims of actual innocence as well as those who raise due process issues. It is T h e L e g al F r am e wo r k 37 especially damaging to those who are in that predicament because of incompetent or inadequate representation.

In the years after World War II, the United States perceived itself and was often seen by people around the world as a leader in the definition and protection of human rights. Through the United Nations and a series of international agreements, it seemed that many nations, especially in the West, had developed a consensus about basic guarantees designed to secure justice. The 1949 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the foundation document in the creation of international protections of human rights, was vague on the subject of the death penalty.

What if that point occurs sooner rather than later because the defendant was represented by an incompetent attorney? What if the state has destroyed the evidence the defendant needs to prove innocence? The latter may seem outrageous but it has happened in cases in both Texas and Virginia. The idea of putting an innocent person to death seemed not to bother Justices Scalia and Thomas. ” Their cavalier attitude seems to suggest that the occasional execution of an innocent person is less important than an efficient system.

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