(KCPW News) A bill that would limit post-conviction appeals for people on death row in Utah won unanimous approval from a House committee this morning. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says this is a compromise struck between the judicial, executive and legislative branches after a year of heated debate.
“There were huge concerns last year about separation of power, was this taking too much away from the judicial branch and giving it to the legislative branch and why is the executive branch so involved in this? So it was a big issue dealing with that. It was the interest of victims and also protecting the constitutional rights of the accused and the convicted,” Shurtleff says, “so that’s why it became so difficult.”
The original proposal introduced last year called for a constitutional amendment limiting post-conviction appeals. The compromise bill instead asks the judiciary to adopt the limit as a court rule.
Democratic Representative Trisha Beck says she’s thankful for the compromise, because she knows from personal experience that the appeals process can drag on for decades, and is devastating for the families of murder victims.
“I really applaud the judiciary and the executive branches of government coming together to try and alleviate this process. And that’s what, I believe, this legislation would do is to alleviate this continued appeals process. I mean, they already have suffered enough.”
House Bill 19, titled “Post Conviction Remedies Amendments,” now heads to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.