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EAGARISPRINGERVILLE ARIZONA SUNSETS When is the last time you saw one? . . . really saw it, not just the reflection glaring beneath your visor as you fought traffic? Each day glorious vistas are being painted across the sky in shining hues of yellow, orange and gold. TAKE TIME TO SEE THE SUNSETS. White Mountain Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 181 Springerville, AZ 85938 This ad placed in cooperation with the Arizona Office of Tourism. ON REAGAN THE MAN AND HIS PRESIDENCY By RONNIE DINKIER “An extremely useful and an extremely frightening book. Washington Post “Sheds much light on the Reagan record . .. No one who reads Mr. Dugger’s illuminating book will be surprised again at the insensitivity of Ronald Reagan.” Anthony Lewis, New York Times “It should be read by all who claim to be serious about what course this nation is going to take.” Houston Post Send us $20 and we will send you an autographed copy of Ronnie Dugger’s acclaimed book on Ronald Reagan. \(Postage included; Texas residents Name Address City __State _ Zip The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Austin, Texas 78701 Supreme Court has so restricted the remedies available on appeal in federal courts, many serious trial errors are never overturned. And appellate attorneys are not required to show any experience in handling capital cases. Furthermore, the time allowed for appeals is so brief, Marshall stated, a just-appointed appellate lawyer -often has no knowledge of the record, has not met the client, and has only a few days to read hundreds of pages of transcripts and prepare a petition.” In Texas, inmates facing death are lucky to have a lawyer at all. In March, Steven Morin was executed, without a lawyer, because he had not found a suitable “Christian” attorney to bring his appeals forward. In July, John Michael Lamb got a last-minute stay, to which he was clearly entitled, only after a volunteer lawyer was found a few days before Lamb’s scheduled execution. I know of at least eight deathrow inmates who have no lawyers, and I know of those only because they’ve asked the ACLU to help get them one. How many more will come to light as the pace of executions picks up? With more than 200 people on death row, Texas has the worst representation crisis of any state. Initial counsel for capital murder defendants are usually court-appointed lawyers, poorly paid, who drop the case in the early stages of appeal. Texas provides no funding for federal habeas corpus proceedings once a sentence has been affirmed by the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals, and finding a lawyer to volunteer to take a death case at this critical stage is growing more difficult every day. So how do death-row inmates get lawyers for post-conviction appeals? The NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York tries to track cases nationwide, but it is dependent upon local sources to find attorneys and provide back-up legal assistance. In most parts of the country, this role is played by the ACLU. In Texas, which will probably have more executions this year there have been six so far than there has been in any one year since the resumption of capital punishment in 1976, there has been only the ACLU. The volume alone makes it nearly impossible for the ACLU to continue this function. But it is more than volume. In the first few years after the resumption of capital punishment, it was not as difficult to find lawyers. Fewer inmates were nearing execution dates. Cases were heavily publicized, and a lawyer who agreed to take one without fee could at least expect a boost in business from the exposure. It was a time in which there was optimism that issues in one defendant’s case might provide a vehicle for dramatic reversal of sentences for many similarly-situated inmates. All of this has changed. The death= row population will continue to grow, and with it the representation crisis. Marshall admonished his audience of lawyers and judges that the Bar and responsible public officials have an obligation to “assure that people who face the ultimate sentence receive the same opportunity to present their best case to the court that non-capital defendants receive.” That is a challenge that must be taken up by the legal and political power structure of the State of Texas. Otherwise, we will execute people in Texas without due process and without lawyers. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS in Florida may point the way out of this crisis. There the State Bar, embarrassed by the number of outof-state attorneys brought in to work on post-conviction proceedings in capital cases, provided funds to set up a resource center, with two attorneys and support staff, to recruit lawyers and provide expert advice. The Bar has convinced Governor Bob Graham and the Attorney General to seek funds from the legislature to establish a special statewide public defender office with sufficient staffing to handle all Florida cases in state and federal court. If this plan works, it will have an enormous impact on the representation crisis for nearly 250 Florida prisoners on death row. Florida is a state at least as gung-ho for the death penalty as Texas and their governor is at least as ardent in support of the death penalty as our own governor yet Graham and other key political leaders found the political courage to recognize the state’s minimal THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11