Courting Death

U.S. Supreme Court says don't short-change death clients

That led the Arizona Legislature last summer to pass new laws that have juries do the sentencing in capital cases, not judges. Importantly, the sentencing phase now is supposed to start a few days after a guilty verdict, not several months or even more than a year afterward. Each of the six Maricopa County juries who have gotten to the sentencing phase since the Ringlaws went into effect has returned a verdict of death.

Assistant federal public defender Dale Baich says Wiggins "is not that difficult to understand. Everyone has been put on notice, including the judiciary, about what needs to be done in capital cases. The judges here have to allow the lawyers to do the proper investigation, the proper digging. And the lawyers shouldn't go forward in any of these cases until they get adequate funding from the courts and adequate training."

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