PIERRE, S.D. (WTW) — A measure aimed at preventing death-row inmates from filing repeated appeals in an effort to delay their executions won final approval Tuesday in the South Dakota Legislature.
The House voted 60-5 to approve a bill that had already cleared the Senate. The measure, suggested by Attorney General Marty Jackley, goes next to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his signature.
The limits on appeals would apply to all serious criminal cases, but Jackley has said the restrictions are particularly needed in death penalty cases because some South Dakota cases have been tied up by appeals for nearly two decades.
Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, said some people on death row have figured out how to manipulate the system to avoid being executed. He said the bill's changes in the appeals system could mean a death sentence is carried out within five to 10 years of a conviction.
People convicted of crimes in South Dakota can appeal their convictions and sentences to the state Supreme Court. They also can file secondary appeals, which generally argue that a convict's constitutional rights have been violated, often claiming that the convict's previous lawyers made mistakes.
The bill would limit convicts to one secondary appeal, unless new evidence is discovered or an appeals court recognizes a new constitutional right that would apply to the case. That secondary appeal also would have to be filed within two years of when the first direct appeal was decided or new evidence was discovered.
Jackley has said the bill's limits on secondary appeals are the same as those applied in 31 other states and the federal court system.
Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said the state needs to speed up executions to provide justice to families of murder victims.
"It's not our job to warehouse these threats to safety," Nelson said.
Supporters of the bill point to Donald Moeller, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1990 rape and murder of 9-year-old Becky O'Connell of Sioux Falls. Moeller continues to pursue an appeal in federal court.
In another case, Charles Russell Rhines continues appeals challenging his death sentence for the 1992 killing of Donnivan Schaeffer during a burglary of a Rapid City doughnut shop.http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/usatoday/article/38629953?odyssey=mod
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