Death-penalty system not fair:
In the next few weeks, Alabama is scheduled to execute Darryl Grayson, Luther Williams and Thomas Arthur. All three men have raised issues about legal representation in their cases.
Recently, Attorney General Troy King wrote a letter to The News in which he attempted to defend Alabama's death-penalty system by asserting "the state offers unlimited attorneys' fees for (a) defendant's trial." Contrary to King's letter, all the condemned men now scheduled for execution received appointed lawyers at trial whose attorneys' fees for out-of-court work was capped by state law at $1,000.
King also wrote that the state pays a "defendant's lawyer again on direct appeal at a reasonable rate of $60 per hour." He neglected, however, to mention that under Alabama law (section 15-12-22), a lawyer handling a direct appeal in a death penalty can only receive a maximum of $2,000, no matter what the hourly rate is. Such a compensation limit for indigent, condemned prisoners facing execution perpetuates a death-penalty system that is compromised by unfairness, inequality and unreliability.
Finally, King said it was "pure fiction" that Death Row prisoners do not receive lawyers for postconviction appeals, and he challenged The News and undersigned to name "just one" Death Row inmate who is in postconviction proceedings without an attorney. Arthur never received postconviction review of his claims because he couldn't find a volunteer lawyer to file his case before the statue of limitations expired. All of his subsequent appeals have been barred.
As Grayson, Williams and Arthur can tell you, there is nothing fictional about the problems of legal representation in their cases or their impending executions.
Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama