The process of capital punishment is a complex system. Capital punishment is the name for the Death Penalty, which is the most severe consequence for some crimes. It is used in thirty-two of the fifty United States, in various forms. Some of the forms of capital punishment include lethal injection, electrocution, and lethal gas. The number of executions by these methods from 1976 until now is roughly 1,469. Murder with aggravating factors are punishable by the death penalty in most states that use it.
The appeals process of the death penalty is a long one. There are four types of appeals: Direct Appeal, State Post-Conviction, Federal Habeas Corpus, and Executive Clemency. Direct Appeal is given to everyone who is given the death penalty, and is automatic. The appeal is made to the state’s highest court and is limited to issues only from the trial.
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State Post-Conviction is the second stage of the appeals process, if Direct Appeal was denied. The person appealing the sentence petitions first with the original trial judge, then with any other applicable courts, and finally with the state’s highest court. “At this stage, the defendant may raise issues surrounding the conviction and sentence that are outside of the record. The defendant can raise issues such as failure to defend the defendant by the counsel, juror misconduct, newly-discovered evidence and Brady violations.
There are strict timelines that must be followed when filing for this appeal, and missing the timeline may automatically deny the appeal.”(CPIC). The third and final stage of the appeals process is Federal Habeas Corpus, and it is limited to federal issues in the state court. There is one last resort, and that is Executive Clemency. “Executive clemency is the power held by a governor or other body to grant relief to a person facing execution.”(CPIC). The state’s governor can delay an execution to look over the case and/or give the defendant a shorter or less extreme sentence like life with or without parole.
If all of these appeals are denied, there are no other options unless the case has more evidence of innocence in which there will be a retrial. In conclusion, the death penalty and the process of appeals is a very complex system.