Tennessee House OKs bill to nix 1 court death penalty review

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MIAMI – FEBRUARY 02: A judges gavel rests on top of a desk in the courtroom of the newly opened Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum February 3, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The museum is located in the only known structure in the nation that was designed, devoted to and operated as a separate station […]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As U.S. executions hover near historically low levels, a bill passed by the Tennessee House aims to remove one state court’s review before putting inmates to death.

The House voted 73-22 Monday for Republican Rep. Mary Littleton’s legislation to skip Tennessee’s Court of Criminal Appeals and provide automatic state Supreme Court death penalty reviews. The Senate could follow this week.

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams has said his court’s last four death penalty reviews took three to six months. Federal courts account for most of the sometimes-three-decades of death penalty court reviews.

The bill is named for Dickson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker, who was killed in May. Baker’s family applauded from the gallery Monday. Two people charged in Baker’s death are approaching trial.

Tennessee executed three inmates in 2018.

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