Texas Court Suspends Death Penalty Challenge

Observers doubt they will continue
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2010 10:38 AM CST
Defense attorney Richard Burr pleads his case during a hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 in Houston.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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(Newser) – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has called a stop to a challenge to the constitutionality of the death penalty, after an emergency appeal by prosecutors. Defense attorneys for accused murderer John Edward Green had brought a pretrial challenge to Texas’ death penalty, arguing that it didn’t do enough to prevent wrongful executions. Prosecutors argued that District Judge Kevin Fine was overstepping his bounds by hearing the argument.

Now, the appeals court has called for a 15-day halt to the hearings, allowing both sides to submit briefs on the matter. It’s likely that’ll bring an end to the hearings entirely, observers tells the Houston Chronicle. “We’re disappointed, and frankly a little surprised,” said one of Green’s lawyers. “If they’re afraid to have the hearing, then maybe they’re concerned about what may come out.” Until now, prosecutors had been refusing to speak at the hearing.

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