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The Champion

October 2008 , Page 5 

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From the President: Death Penalty Funding Bureaucracy and the Fountain of Justice

By John Wesley Hall

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I have in my hand the Eighth Circuit’s approved budget for the experts in a federal death penalty trial set for January. The client shall remain nameless to protect the accused from the rants of his lawyer in this magazine.

We first proposed our budget back in February, I think. Due to a somewhat understandable miscommunication of sorts, the magistrate judge sat on the budget a little long. I won’t bore you with the details, but we met with the district judge over the budget in June. We sought what we certainly thought was a reasonable amount1 for experts, including the mitigation expert. Future dangerousness is a big issue, as it is in most federal death cases.

In late September, the district judge got back from the chief judge of the Eighth Circuit that we were approved for only about two-thirds of what we asked for. So, the January trial date is now blown because of the bureaucracy of death penalty funding.2 The joys of budgeting a CJA capital defense. Hurry up and wait. Scrimp an

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