Home >

January 22, 2013
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Claire Haynes (334) 242-7351
Page 1 of 2

(MONTGOMERY)–Attorney General Luther Strange announced that the two bills in the
Fair Justice Act package today were approved by the Judiciary Committees of both the Alabama
Senate and House of Representatives. He applauded the committees’ positive action and urged
members of the Legislature to move forward in enacting these important measures.
The Attorney General advocates this legislation to make death penalty appeals more
efficient, while preserving and strengthening safeguards for fairness. He also wants to extend
certain circumstances in which the death penalty can be applied, such as shootings at a school.
“Death penalty appeals seem endless, with excessive delays that serve only to prolong
pain and postpone justice for the victims of these heinous crimes,” said Attorney General
Strange. “We are proposing fair and sensible changes to make the system work better for
everyone. We also want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate attacks on children at
schools, with changes in the law that specify it is a capital crime to murder them and others who
are particularly vulnerable.”
The Fair Justice Act was developed in coordination with the Alabama District Attorneys
Association. There are two separate bills to amend different parts of the death penalty law, both
of which are sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw.
The first bill, HB 216 and SB 194, addresses the cumbersome and inefficient appeals
process. Following a capital conviction, there is a period of “direct appeals” and only after these
are fully completed – sometimes more than several years later – does the defendant begin the
next round of appeals, which is a “Rule 32” petition for post-conviction relief. The Fair Justice
Act requires capital defendants to file Rule 32 petitions within 180 days of filing their first direct
appeal. Capital defendants would receive better representation by having their claims
considered earlier in the process, and indigent defendants would be appointed counsel for the
Rule 32 petition within 30 days of being sentenced. Finally, the Fair Justice Act calls for a final
decision by the circuit court on the Rule 32 petition within 180 days after the direct appeal is
completed. This act will make the appellate process more efficient while maintaining the same
opportunities for court review and enhancing representation currently provided to death row
–more –

501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 2

The second bill, HB 218 and SB 193, provides important protections for schoolchildren and
certain others who are particularly vulnerable by expanding classifications for killings that may
be prosecuted as capital offenses. These offenses would now include the murder of any person on
a school campus, any person in a day care or child care facility, anyone who is covered by a
“protection from abuse” order when the murder was committed for intimidation or retaliation
for the order, and any family member of law enforcement or a public official when the murder
was intended for intimidation or retaliation against the officer or official. The Fair Justice Act
also makes it an aggravating circumstance – a factor to be considered in determining whether to
impose the death penalty – to murder a law enforcement officer when the officer is acting in the
line of duty.
“I am pleased that these bills are moving quickly through the Legislature and that both
the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have taken our recommendations to make
Alabama’s death penalty laws stronger, more efficient, and more just,” said Attorney General
Strange. “I especially want to thank our sponsors, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw and Rep. Lynn Greer, for
their outstanding leadership in moving this important legislation forward. I urge the Legislature
to swiftly vote on and give final approval to these reforms.”