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Measure to limit death row appeals proposed

Measure to limit death row appeals proposed

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A proposed change in Utah's handling of death penalty cases would put a time limit on raising challenges to a conviction or sentence.

Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Michael Zimmerman and Salt Lake City attorney Troy Booher presented a proposed constitutional amendment to the Utah Constitutional Review Commission on Thursday. They said it's best to leave the constitution alone, but that if there is an amendment recommended, they want it to be theirs.

The attorney general's office has proposed an amendment that would allow the Legislature, instead of the courts, to limit claims in all criminal cases that could be considered after a conviction and sentence have been upheld.

The proposal backed by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff failed at the Legislature earlier this year after passing the Senate but being defeated in the House. Shurtleff has said Utah effectively has no death penalty because convicted killers have been allowed repeated appeals.

Zimmerman's and Booher's proposal would apply only to death penalty cases and would still let judges rule on what claims are allowed, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The commission, which is an advisory group to the Legislature, will try to have a decision by this fall on a recommendation, said commission Chairman Jon Memmott, a 2nd District Court judge.

A two-thirds vote by state lawmakers is required to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The measure could appear on the ballot as early as next year.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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