Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School professor, Michael Mears, was recently interviewed by the Chattanooga Times Free Press to discuss delayed justice in Walker Co., GA where many inmates sit on death row for decades while the families of their victims are left to wait hopelessly for justice to be served. In the article, Professor Mears explained the process by which death penalty cases are assigned to local judges and the roles which the courts must play in insuring that each defendant in a death penalty case has a qualified defense attorney.
An excerpt from the article reads:
Michael Mears, the head of the Multi-County Public Defenders Office that represented indigent defendants in capital cases throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, said a district attorney can’t blame the defense in this type of case. The prosecutor has to move the case forward because the defense is always going to delay any hearings. One more day of delays means one more day their client stays alive.
“If people are awaiting death and are waiting for something in the case,” Mears said, “there is no great incentive to push it forward.”
“A lot of district attorneys shy away from it,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. Quite frankly, it’s the responsibility of the judge … It starts with the judge. The case is on his docket. He’s got to stay on top of it. Now, some of these cases fall through the cracks.”