Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



Attorney General Tom Horne To Sue Federal Government Over Delays In Capital Cases

PHOENIX, AZ (Thursday, April 18, 2013) -- Citing the need to spare victims’ families any unnecessary delay in having sentences for federal capital cases carried out, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne today threatened to sue the Federal Government if it did not approve, within 90 days, Arizona’s application to qualify for expedited review of such cases. 

In the last seven capital cases, Federal Habeas Corpus delayed justice being done between 10 and 13 years. Expedited status would require that the Federal District Court act within 450 days and the Court of Appeals act within 120 days of the filing of the last reply brief. This could shave approximately 10 years off the delay.            

Horne stated: “We are dealing here with the most horrible murders, and the need for surviving families to see justice done within a reasonable time. The studies show that families suffer from something like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and can heal faster if they see justice done within a reasonable period of time. If they are victimized a second time by endless delays in the Federal Courts, that adds to their pain.  Congress passed a law requiring the Executive Branch to come up with rules for expedited status, and the Obama administration, which has been in office for more than four years, still has not come up with those rules. We qualify for that status under the statute. If we are not granted that request within 90 days, we will file an action seeking relief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has judicial review under the relevant statute.”

A copy of Horne’s letter to Federal AG Eric Holder is attached.