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Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker - California Death Row
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Thread: Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker - California Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker - California Death Row

    Cindy Schaeffer, 16 [6/24/1979]
    Andrea Hall, 18 [7/8/1979]
    Jackie Gilliam, 15 [9/3/1979]
    Leah Lamp, 13 [9/3/1979]
    Shirley Sanders [9/30/1979] survived (no picture)
    Shirley Lynette Ledford, 16 [10/31/1979]

    Summary of Offense:

    Bittaker and Roy Norris hatched a plan to rape and kill local girls. Bittaker bought a 1977 GMC cargo van, which they came to call 'Murder Mack', because it had no side windows in the back and a large passenger side sliding door. From February to June 1979, they gave their plan a test run. They drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopped at beaches, talked to girls and took their pictures. When arrested police found close to 500 pictures among Bittaker's possessions. On June 24, 1979 they claimed their first real victim, 16-year-old Cindy Schaeffer. They picked her up near Redondo Beach, Norris forcing her into the van. He duct taped her mouth and bound her arms and legs. Bittaker drove the van to a fire road on San Gabriel Mountains out of sight of the highway. Both men raped the girl, and then Bittaker wrapped a straightened wire coat hanger around her neck. He tightened the wire with vice-grip pliers, strangling her to death. They wrapped her body in a plastic shower curtain and dumped it in a nearby canyon.

    They then picked up 18-year-old Andrea Hall hitchhiking on July 8. Norris hid in the back of the van and Bittaker talked her into the van. After she had gotten in Bittaker offered her a drink from a cooler in the back. When she went to the cooler Norris jumped her, bound her arms and legs, and taped her mouth. They took her to the fire road and raped her several times. Bittaker dragged her from the van, and Norris left to get beer. When he returned Andrea was gone and Bittaker was looking at Polaroid pictures of her. He had stabbed her with an ice pick in both ears and when she wouldn't die fast enough, strangled her. He threw her body over a cliff.

    On September 3, while driving near Hermosa Beach, the pair spotted two girls on a bus stop bench and offered them a ride. Jackie Gilliam, 15, and Leah Lamp, 13, accepted their offer. The girls became suspicious when Bittaker parked the van near a suburban tennis court. Leah went for the back door and Norris hit her in the head with a bat. A short scuffle broke out, but with Bittaker's help Norris subdued the teens and bound them both in the usual fashion. Bittaker then drove them to the fire road. They kept the girls alive for two days, raping and torturing them the whole time with a wire hanger and pliers. They even made an audio recording of the events. Eventually, Bittaker stabbed Jackie in both ears with an ice pick. Like Andrea Hall she didn't die, and the men took turns strangling her until she died. Bittaker then strangled Leah while Norris hit her in the head with a sledgehammer seven times. They dumped the bodies over a cliff, the ice pick still in Jackie's head.

    They kidnapped Shirley Sanders on September 30, macing her and forcing her into the van. Both raped her, but she escaped. Unfortunately, she couldn't identify the men and didn't know the license plate number of the van.

    They kidnapped 16-year-old Lynette Ledford on October 31, raping her and torturing her with a pair of pliers, while driving around Los Angeles instead of heading to their usual mountain spot. Again they tape recorded the whole thing, eventually strangling her with a wire hanger and pliers. Instead of tossing her body over a cliff, they left it on a random lawn in Hermosa Beach to see local reaction in the newspaper. The body was found the next day and caused quite a stir, being only days since the arrest of "Hillside Strangler" Angelo Buono.

    Norris had been telling prison friend Jimmy Dalton all about the murders. Dalton thought the stories were lies until Ledford's body was found. He talked to his lawyer and they went to the Los Angeles Police Department with the information about Norris. Bittaker was convicted of rape, torture, kidnapping, and murder on February 17, 1981 and sentenced to death in Los Angeles County. As of February 2008, he is still on Death Row, where he still receives fan mail from women, which he signs using his nickname "Pliers" Bittaker. Norris was also sentenced, but was guaranteed not to serve a life sentence or be executed for his testimony against Bittaker.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Pain lingers as death row inmate lives on

    Shirley Lynette Ledford was a pretty, 16-year-old teenage girl just coming into her own in 1979, the year she was kidnapped and murdered.

    She would have turned 48 this year.

    I got to thinking about her Wednesday after reading another story about how we can't seem to come up with a humane way to thin out the waiting list on San Quentin's death row without causing murderers too much pain and suffering.

    It's a hard argument to swallow when you know the pain and suffering Ledford went through at the end of her short life.

    I can still hear her screams as she begged for her life. No one in the courtroom who heard the 17-minute audio tape of her last moments will ever forget it.

    Jurors openly cried and half a dozen people sitting in the courtroom had to get up and leave, sick to their stomachs. Even the prosecutor cried talking to the media later. It was that chilling and cruel.

    The man sentenced to death for kidnapping and murdering Ledford and four other teenage girls was Larry Bittaker, a Burbank machinist.

    He's turning 71 this year.

    I don't know if they celebrate birthdays on death row, but if they do Bittaker's been blowing out the candles for 30 years now while the system tries to figure out a way to kill him that won't hurt.

    Sticking a hot needle in his arm and letting him fall asleep forever doesn't seem to be it, so Bittaker and more than 650 other murderers on death row keep celebrating more birthdays.

    Shirley Lynette Ledford ran out of birthdays 32 years ago.

    "It's sad to think Bittaker might have to go through a little pain if he's executed," quips Stephen Kay, a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who was lead prosecutor on the trial.

    Kay, who also co-prosecuted the Charles Manson murder trial, vividly remembers the pain and suffering Bittaker and his partner, Roy Norris, (who got life for testifying against Bittaker) inflicted on Ledford.

    They raped, mutilated, then strangled her with a clotheshanger in the back of a van they dubbed the Murder Mac. Then they threw her body into a Tujunga ivy bed like she was roadside trash.

    It's unimaginable to know the pain and suffering this poor little girl went through at Bittaker's hands. That 17-minute audio tape tears your heart out.

    It took the jury an hour and a half to come back with a guilty verdict in 1981. Since then, more than half of the jurors have died, as has the trial judge, assistant prosecutor, and lead detective who testified.

    Meanwhile, Bittaker sits in his cell on death row celebrating another birthday while the state looks for a humane way to execute him.

    "In my penalty arguments I apologized to the jury for only asking for the death penalty," Kay told me Wednesday.

    "I told them I wish I could ask them to do to him what he did to those girls."

    This column is not about being for or against the death penalty. That's another argument. This one's about the idea that somehow we degrade ourselves as a society if a murderer sitting on death row experiences some pain and suffering at the end.

    Who cares? Pain and suffering was their livelihood. They're pros at it. Kay's words to the jury during the penalty phase of the trial 30 years ago hit a nerve in that courtroom.

    Nobody on the jury gave a damn about what Bittaker's pain and suffering might be when it came time for their verdict to be carried out.

    It was Ledford and the other girls' pain and suffering they cared about. The victims, not the murderer.

    If we're going to have a death penalty law in this state, which we do, then make it one for the victims.

    When it's your time, you get the same pain and suffering you caused your victims.

    Yeah, I know, it'll never happen. But you can always dream.

    Shirley Lynette Ledford celebrated her last birthday 32 years ago when she was 16.

    Larry Bittaker's celebrating his 71st birthday this year - 30 years after a jury sentenced him to death for murdering her.

    What's wrong with that picture?


  3. #3
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Interview With A Killer

    In 1979, Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris raped, mutilated and murdered at least five teenage girls. Bittaker was sentenced to death for the killings, and is now on San Quentin prison’s Death Row. Bizarre interviewed him face to face. Over 12 hours, Bittaker revealed the full horror behind the killings.

    Your case was used during research for The Silence Of The Lambs. Have you ever seen the movie?

    I’ve seen bits of it, but those types of movies don’t appeal to me. I have no preoccupation with murder mysteries or sexual-assault mysteries. I can’t relate to the movie. It’s too wacky.

    What was your motivation for the crimes?

    I’m going to tell you the truth. My psychosexual development stopped when I first got incarcerated at 16. I’ve spent 40 of my 65 years in jail. It destroyed my social and sexual development. I never had a normal upbringing. My family life was like I was a boarder. I don’t hate women. I can’t understand raping an 80-year-old woman. You’re raping someone who’s unattractive. Something is screwy with that. But I can understand the rape of an attractive girl who turns you on. I love girls, young and attractive. My fantasy is a girl screaming, but because of pleasure. My whole life I had no woman who loved me. And that’s what I wanted so bad. That’s why I took the girls into the mountains.

    How do you feel about women?

    I like women. I don’t think they’re beneath us. I got wrapped up in a screwball fantasy. It wasn’t exciting. Well, it was exciting in a certain sense. Age is not relevant as long as they’re young and attractive. I got a problem with women anywhere near my adopted mother’s age. My adopted parents were kind of old when they adopted me, in their 40s. Having sex with a woman of that age reminds me of my mother, a sex object.

    What happened during the Lamp-Gilliam murder?

    Roy was the one who got excited about having sex. I kind of stumbled into it. Technically, it was rape; they were snatched off the street and tied up. But we treated them well. We partied with them. Gave them food, smoked marijuana and drank. Given the circumstances, it was the most friendly rape situation. I’m the local friendly rapist.

    You’ve said you were more attracted to Gilliam. What turned you on about her?

    She said she was a virgin. You wouldn’t know it by doing her. She was mature, well-developed, didn’t have wide hips. I can’t remember how many times I did it with her over the two days, had to be three times. We spent Sunday noon to Monday midnight together. The tape I made with her was only a couple of minutes long. I played it later for some kids in my neighbourhood.


  4. #4
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    June 2007

    Lawrence Bittaker
    Part 2 of Bizarre's most disturbing interview ever, featuring the world's sickest serial killer

    By Jamie Schram

    Bizarre secured an exclusive interview Lawrence Bittaker, the man who (in 1979) picked up, raped, tortured and murdered five teenage girls in the back of a specially adapted van christened the ‘Murder Mac’. We met him at the place he has called home since his conviction for the killings in 1981: San Quentin prison’s Death Row. In Part 1 we talked to Bittaker about the murders. Now, we discuss his sexuality, prison life, and his forthcoming execution...

    The FBI interviewed you twice to learn about serial killers. What was that experience like?

    Yeah, John Douglas [a now-retired FBI profiler]. He thought he was smart. He dressed down for me. He brought another FBI agent, Mary Ellen O’Toole. She was hot. CBS and The FBI were going to produce a show called Criminal Minds, based on my case, that was an hour-long special, primetime. But they weren’t allowed to do it because San Quentin wouldn’t give them the interview time.

    What was your problem with Douglas?

    Well, the first thing I mentioned was that he dressed down. He wore denim and a jacket. This guy thinks he’s slick. He thought he could fit in with me. He thought calling a woman a bitch in front of me would get me to like him. He thought he could con me. I wasn’t saying anything. I can’t blame the guy for trying. He was playing little mind games. He used the term ‘bitches’. I don’t refer to females as ‘bitches’.

    Are you homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual?

    I’m adaptable. Because of my 40 years of incarceration, I have had more sex with men than women. It’s easily accessible in prison. It’s right there. Why not just do it? I used to live with a woman in Hollywood. She was totally beautiful from the waist up. But when she raised her dress, she was a drag queen. She was from El Salvador. It was available, satisfying. She was a professional entertainer.

    Did you have a sexual relationship with Roy?

    Roy is homophobic. He is bigoted, and he is racist. I wouldn’t talk to him about it. He was not adaptable.

    Have you ever been married?

    I was married in 1982 while I was here. She was a born-again Christian. She wrote me a letter when I was in LA County jail. That’s how it got started. I called her. She picked up. We started talking. When I got transferred up here, she came to visit me. I asked her to marry me. That was a stupid idea. She was on welfare. She divorced me approximately four years later. She claimed I was impotent. We never had sex.

    When did you start getting in trouble with the law?

    I was 12 or 13 years old. I started to shoplift. The first time I can remember, I stole a mustard seed in a glass ball on a chain. It was a present for a female acquaintance. It was just a girl I was with.

    Was she the first female you had sex with?

    No sex. Didn’t know what sex was until I was 15. Had sex with myself. I was 20 when I had my first sexual experience with a female. I was locked up in the federal medical centre in Springfield, Missouri, for car theft. I don’t want to go into the details, people might think I’m crazy.

    Are you a serial killer?

    They say I am, so I am. I’m a special serial killer.

    What’s a special serial killer?


    OK. Let’s talk about your health. I see all these meds you carry around. What are your illnesses?

    Thyroid problem. Something wrong with my kidney. High blood pressure. I take Norvasc for that. Heart medication. I take seven different medications and inhalers for a breathing problem.

    Are any of these conditions potentially fatal?

    I had a heart attack on 1 August 2004. A minor one. The hospital here got an IV in my arm, called an ambulance. They couldn’t find a vein. My veins roll around. Because of that, the prison can’t give me lethal injection. I would kill myself first. I don’t want them searching around my arm sticking needles in me.

    Do you think about your execution?

    Why would I want to think about that? [Leans in and speaks softly so the guards can’t hear] I have it all figured out anyway to commit suicide. Razorblades are sort of messy. I can just black myself out. You just put some pressure on your carotid artery. And if I did that with a wrap of some kind, maybe a belt or cloth, wrap it around my neck, tighten it with a pencil or something. When your brain is not getting any blood, you’re in trouble. I’ll just fall out and never wake up.

    Under what circumstances would you kill yourself?

    Obviously, if I had some type of medical problem, if I was in a lot of pain, and to avoid a public execution. As bizarre as I am, I can’t imagine coming in here to watch somebody get killed.

    When do you plan on killing yourself?

    Don’t have any immediate plans of going anywhere. I might change my mind next week.

    What do you have to live for?

    It’s habit, I guess. Everybody who is living, it’s just habit. I’m not seeing the end yet, but it’s getting closer. Not deciding to die yet.

    Are you seeing a psychiatrist?

    It’s a psychologist, actually. Her name is Dr Lewis. She’s a prison psychologist. You see, part of the reason I was talking to John Douglas was to contribute something positive out of this whole mess with my case. It didn’t work with the FBI. It couldn’t, because I had all this ongoing litigation. But with the psychologist, although any information I give her is confidential, after I’m gone maybe she can release the information. We haven’t made any plans just yet. Just recently I started with her.

    So it sounds like you have some remorse.

    Just something positive to come out of this whole mess. It’s just the right thing to do.

    How many executions have taken place since you’ve been here and what happens the day an inmate gets executed?

    There have been eight or nine executions since I’ve been here. We’re locked down the day of an execution. Everybody is in their cells. Nobody is allowed to leave. The prison diverts staff from normal duties to deal with protesters who are both for and against the death penalty.

    What is the mood in the prison?

    Nobody cares. Just another day.

    Really? So it’s not a big deal?

    It’s a big deal to the guy getting executed. Once you get an execution date, which is about 30 days in advance, you get moved to North Segregation Unit, which is the historic Death Row. A week away from your execution, you’re put under 24-hour police watch so you don’t commit suicide. They don’t want you to screw up their programme.

    What about your life on Death Row? What is the food like?

    It’s terrible. The menu reads nice, but the quality and preparation is just crap.

    Where do you go to eat?

    You’re fed in your cell, pre-prepared trays from the dining room. Things they can bulk-serve. Everything precooked and prepared somewhere else. Hard candy is served as a sugar substitute. [Scott Peterson, convicted of the murder of his wife and unborn child in 2005, walks past in handcuffs, flanked by two armed guards] Scott ‘Fuck’ Peterson.

    Have you met him?

    I haven’t seen him much in the prison. He never goes to the yard. He gets a lot of visits from different women. He gets at least three regular visits each week and he gets legal visits. He always has two guards with him at all times. He never has to eat the prison food. He gets care packages of food. I’m classified as a ‘walk-alone’, too, because of the publicity in my case.

    What does a ‘walk-alone’ mean?

    The other prisoners are like, “We don’t want him on our yard,” because of my crimes and how young the victims were. The victims are kind of marginal. I’m on Yard Four. But I never go.

    How do you spend your time?

    I spend 23-and-a-half hours a day in my cell. No condemned have cellmates. My cell is 4.5ft by 11ft. I was on the main line, non-condemned, for two-and-a-half years when I first came to San Quentin in 1961, for stealing cars. Anyway, I spend 16 hours a day lying there in the bed. You’re allowed to get four books a week from the institutional library. You might request a thriller, but get given a science-fiction novel instead.

    Sorry to hear that.

    A lot of the prisoners working in the library just don’t care. What are you going to do about it, throw them in jail?

    You have a sense of humour.

    You have to. Twenty-five years on Death Row, you’d better have one. You can’t take it seriously or you’ll go crazy.

    What about the boredom? How do you adjust to it?

    Boredom? You just adjust or die. If you don’t die, you’ve adjusted. Besides, I have my own TV, 13in colour TV.

    Thirteen-inch colour TV? Are you kidding?

    Someone on the outside bought me the TV.


    It’s a long story. I don’t want to get into it. We can also subscribe to magazines as long as they’re not bomb-making magazines and don’t show nudity.

    What’s in your cell?

    I got a mattress. I sleep on the floor. I have pictures I’ve drawn of the cell. I have no artistic ability, but they’re not bad. I got a steel bed, but I use it as a table. I can sit there cross-legged on my mattress. There’s a typewriter on a box on the bed. There’s a box of legal documents and on top of it there’s my Zenith TV. I have a GPX radio I don’t use. I have one tape – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly. But I don’t have the equipment to play it.

    Have you seen any violence in the prison?

    I saw a prisoner get killed by a guard, shot in the head for punching some guy. The guard fired two warning shots and then shot him in the back of the head accidentally. The guard claims he was trying to shoot him in the leg.

    How do you get along with the guards?

    A lot of them don’t like me because of my case. A few of them say, “Hey Pliers, did you bring your toolbox?” I get along with them as long as they want to get along with me.

    Do you get many visitors?

    No. There is a couple, a husband and wife, name’s Smith. Christian couple from Fresno. He’s a licensed minister. They initially were involved in the juvenile-offender programme. Around the late 1970s, they shifted their attention to the condemned, and started visiting Death Row prisoners. They visit me infrequently.

    What do you talk about with them?

    Whatever we want to talk about. I’m not religious. They don’t push religion on me. [Eyes well up with tears] They’re just really good people. See, I’m not an animal. We all got our problems. Look at you. You have big feet. Observant, aren’t I?

    Yeah. What are your extracurricular activities?

    I’ve gone through four to eight books a week during the time I’ve been here, plus all of the law books. I leafed through the California law books and I find stuff my attorneys didn’t find on criminal cases.

    There are collectors of serial-killer memorabilia, and your art is highly prized among them. How did you get started in all this?

    I just started making greetings cards that were interesting. One of the first cards had a picture of a convict. And when you pulled a tail at the bottom of the card, his tongue would come out, eyes would change colour, pecker would come out. Next one was a variation of that, a picture of just a regular guy you would see on the street. You would open up his trenchcoat and the guy would have a humungous erection with a string at the end of it with a sign that said “Hi!” It was just something to do at first, but then I decided to make money so I could buy things in prison and wouldn’t have to beg off people on the outside. The prison eventually busted me for unauthorised dealing. Capitalism at work. They gave me all this celebrity. You might as well work it.

    Are you friends with other celebrity-types here, like [child-rapist and murderer] Richard Allen Davis?

    The prisoners here blame him for the ‘three strikes…’ law [America’s bizarre ‘three strikes and you’re out’ law rules that a citizen faces a potential 25-years-to-life prison sentence if they commit three serious crimes, but has seen men convicted of petty crimes such as burglary facing life in jail]. He’s asking for it one way or another. Polly Klaas [Davis’ victim], a young girl. [Sighs] I’ve talked to Davis a couple of times. He’s an old-style convict.

    What about the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez?

    Ramirez used to be a neighbour of mine. He’s in the hole for flag-waving [Simulates opening a trenchcoat]. He flashed some female employee. They caught him selling his souvenirs to someone who’s dealing them for him on the outside.

    Why did Ramirez flash the guard?

    I think he’s done it a couple times. He has no control over his sexual impulses. When we were neighbours, we never really talked much at
    all. What am I going to talk about with this guy? I once traded my autograph for his.

    Do you have any other serial-killer friends in prison?

    Randy Kraft. He was in my yard. He would get his hair cut out there. And I would pick it up from the ground and give it to one of my collector friends on the outside, and he would sell it. In return, these guys on the outside would send me smut magazines or stamps. Randy found out I was giving away his hair. He doesn’t talk to me any more.

    How did that make you feel, losing a friend?

    We used to be friendly. He stopped talking to me around a year ago. I don’t blame him. Maybe he overreacted a little bit. Whatever turns him on.

    Any other serial-killer stories?

    Randy Kraft, Bill Bonin, Douglas Clark and me, you have a good bodycount there. Some collector had four aces from a deck of cards and wanted us all to sign the cards. But Randy wouldn’t sign, not even for 0. He didn’t like any publicity. Somebody wrote a book about his case. He sued the writer.

    How much money did you make selling your wares?

    Not very much. Most expensive cards were . Retailer took 40 per cent. Started roughly in 1983 and ended in 98. I was under investigation. Supposedly the authorities got word that a local principal was smuggling in kiddie porn to me. That’s what led to them finding out about my business. They charged me with two things: running a business and circumventing trust procedures, which is kind of like laundering money. At most, I made 0.

    Be honest with me. Do you have any remorse for killing those girls?

    Yes. Yes. Yes. How many times do I have to tell you? Nobody is going to believe it. I’m not happy I got caught.


  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Trailer for "The Devil and the Death Penalty".

  6. #6
    Member Member giallohunter's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Hanko, Finland
    Seems to be an interesting one but is this available anywhere to buy or stream? Would not mind giving it a watch.

  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Habeas Corpus "Fast Track" Is Back On Track

    By Kent Scheidegger

    This morning we won a major victory in the fight to have capital cases concluded within a reasonable time. In Habeas Corpus Resource Center v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No. 14-16928, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken and put the "fast track" process back on track.

    The story goes back to the 1980s. A committee of the Judicial Conference chaired by retired Justice Lewis Powell found two big problems in the collateral review of capital cases. Some states did not provide lawyers for death row inmates on state collateral review. The Constitution requires state-paid lawyers for the first review of the case on the trial record (direct appeal) but not for the second round where new evidence can be brought in (habeas corpus or a substitute for it). The second problem was that a third review of the case in federal court -- federal habeas corpus -- was taking far two long.

    A prime example of pointless delay in federal habeas corpus can be seen in the case of Lawrence Bittaker. He kidnapped and murdered five teenage girls, raping and torturing most of them, and was convicted on 26 felony counts at all. If we are going to have capital punishment, this is most definitely the kind of case that deserves it. The judgment was affirmed by the California Supreme Court in 1989. The federal habeas corpus petition was filed in 1991. Briefing was completed in federal district court in 2005. Since then, the federal district judge has simply sat on the case, refusing to hold argument or issue a decision. It has been nearly 11 years.

    The Powell Committee decided to address both issues with one measure. In return for states providing qualified and adequately funded counsel on state collateral review (as most states were already doing), the states would receive certain benefits in federal habeas corpus to speed up review of the cases, i.e., the fast track.

    When Congress enacted the Powell Committee reforms as part of the habeas portion of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, it boosted the benefits to the states. In particular, it imposed time limits on the federal courts to resolve the cases. Federal district courts got a tight deadline of 180 days from the filing of a capital case case to final disposition.

    Horrified by this tight deadline, federal courts gave the requirements for qualification an extremely restrictive interpretation, and not a single state was held to qualify. The Supreme Court failed to review these dubious decisions.

    In 2006, Congress amended the law. It relaxed the deadline on district courts to 450 days (a year and 3 months). It also removed the decision on whether a state qualified from the courts that would be subject to the deadline (in light of their obvious bias and conflict of interest) and assigned it to the Attorney General with review by the D.C. Circuit. Finally, Congress directed the Attorney General to promulgate regulations to establish a certification procedure. Congress did not authorize the Attorney General to make regulations on the substantive requirements for certification. It expressly provided that the requirements in the statute itself are the only requirements.

    For the remaining two years of the Bush Administration, DOJ dragged its feet and only promulgated the regulations at the end of the term. The capital defense bar challenged them in federal district court, maneuvering the case before the very judge who had erroneously held that California did not qualify earlier, one of the judges that Congress had moved the decision to the Attorney General to get away from. Instead of appealing the erroneous injunction, the Obama DOJ rescinded the regulations and dragged its feet establishing new ones.

    Arizona finally got tired of waiting and applied for certification without regulations. Texas followed suit. When DOJ would not act, Arizona went to the D.C. Circuit with a petition. DOJ then belatedly promulgated the regulations, and Arizona dismissed its petition.

    Two taxpayer-funded legal organizations, the California Habeas Corpus Resource Center and the Federal Public Defender of Arizona filed suit in their own names, not on behalf of their death row clients, to enjoin implementation of the regulations. They maneuvered the case once again to Federal District Judge Claudia Wilken, and once again she ruled in their favor.

    DOJ did appeal, but it failed to ask for a stay of this erroneous judgment, so the fast track certification procedure has been stalled. CJLF filed an amicus brief in the Court of Appeals on behalf of two family members of murder victims, Marc Klaas of California and Edward Hardesty of Arizona.

    Today, two and a half years after the initial injunction, the Court of Appeals vacated the injunction and remanded the case with directions to dismiss. First, the attorney offices do not have standing. The "injury" to them is merely having to operate in an environment where the law does not fully answer all questions and they will have to make litigation decisions in an uncertain environment. Well, welcome to the profession, folks. "Assisting and counseling clients in the face of legal uncertainty is the role of lawyers ...."

    Second, and most importantly, it would not have mattered if they had brought the action in the name of their death row clients. Their challenge to the regulations is not "ripe" for review until they have been applied to a specific case.

    Both points are well established law. Judge Wilken's decision was clearly wrong out of the gate. This erroneous decision has delayed for an additional two and a half years a law that Congress enacted for the specific purpose of speeding things up.

    At the time AEDPA was enacted, the "fast track" was supposed to be the centerpiece of the reforms. Its implementation is long overdue. Now we can finally get moving.


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