Ramsey Lauds Passage of Bill Limiting Death-Row Legal Aid

Press Release from Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, April 4, 2011:

Post-conviction defender oversight commission bill passes Senate

(Nashville) – Legislation sponsored by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) to create a new post-conviction defender oversight commission passed this evening on the Senate floor by a vote of 21 to 8.

Senate Bill 827 clearly delineates the line between the role of the office of post-conviction defender which provides counsel for indigent death penalty convicts and the oversight commission whose mission is solely administrative.

“Constitutionally, we must provide a death penalty defense to those cannot afford one, but we must also ensure accountability to the taxpayer for those charged with overseeing this program,” said Ramsey.

Under this new legislation no member of the commission may advise or assist the post-conviction defender in providing legal representation in post-conviction cases.

“Every defendant has the right to vigorous defense,” said Ramsey. “But the people of this state also have the right to see just sentences carried out and their money well spent.”

The bill terminates the current post-conviction defender commission on June 30, 2011. The new commission will be comprised of three appointments each from the speaker of the senate, the speaker of the house and the governor. Those appointments are to be made by September 1, 2011.