Tennessee bill to nix 1 death penalty court review advances

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee bill to eliminate one state court’s review of death sentences is headed to the Senate floor.

The Judiciary Committee voted favorably Tuesday for Republican Sen. John Stevens’ bill, despite a judge’s testimony that his court takes less than a year of sometimes three decades of court action before executions.

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams told senators his court completed its last four death penalty reviews within three to six months.

He said changing the law would add more challenges in the federal court system, saying attorneys could argue it’s unfair that death penalty cases are getting less review in state courts than lesser offenses.

The bill’s supporters include Republicans House Speaker Glen Casada and Senate Speaker Randy McNally, who said justice delayed for decades isn’t justice at all.

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