Alabama SR Inmates Process

Anyone sentenced to death in Alabama automatically has an appeal to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

The appeals process can be quite lengthy and involves three tiers, said Clay Crenshaw, chief of the capital litigation division at the Attorney Generals office.

The first tier is the direct appeal, which is automatic to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Crenshaw said.

Any further appeals are not automatically filed, and the next phase in the first tier is to file with the Alabama Supreme Court, Crenshaw said.

In the second tier, called the Rule 32 appeal and not automatic, the case is returned to the circuit court where the original trial was held for a review of issues not appealable in a direct appeal, Crenshaw said.

That decision then can be appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, to the Alabama Supreme Court and to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the third tier, the case is appealed to federal courts, Crenshaw said.

Those courts include U.S. District Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which is in Atlanta and hears federal cases from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The last phase is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Crenshaw said.

The conviction and death sentence must be upheld in each phase before the case can be appealed to the next.

If, at any level, a conviction or sentence is not upheld, a new trial or resentencing may be required, he said.

That scenario led to convicted killer Glenn Holladay being removed from death row and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2006, a federal judge ruled that Holladay couldnt be executed because he is mentally retarded and had to be resentenced in the court in which he was convicted.

Robert Bryant Melson, 38, has reached the final phase of tier three, Crenshaw said.

His case is expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court when it convenes on Oct. 5. If his conviction stands for the 1994 slayings of three employees at Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits in East Gadsden, an execution date is expected to be set.

Three others remain on death row from convictions in Etowah County.

Geoffrey Todd West, 34, and Michael Shannon Taylor, 37, are both at the same level in appeals process, Crenshaw said.

Both are in federal district court, which is the first phase of the third and final tier, Crenshaw said.

Michael Wayne Reynolds, 36, convicted in 2007, is in the first phase of the appeals process, Crenshaw said.