Yesterday, California voters passed Proposition 66, a measure that is designed to hasten the capital sentencing process. Professor Sean Kennedy, executive director of the Loyola Center for Juvenile law & Policy and former head of the Federal Public Defender's Capital Habeas Unit, foresees problems:
Habeas lawyers are likely to argue that Prop 66 violates due process. For 40 years, the state supreme court decided all the capital habeas petitions to ensure uniformity and fairness in the application of the death penalty in California. Now all bets are off because the individual trial judges will decide those issues, leading to conflicting decisions and inconsistent application of the death penalty throughout the state.