Saturday, September 6, 2014

Justice Castille pounds away at federal defenders in capital cases

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille has again issued scathing criticism of the federal defenders' tactics in an ongoing death-penalty appeal, reported The Legal Intelligencer.
In his opinion addressing motions prompted by the court's decision to deny reargument in the case, Castille leveled harsh words at the Philadelphia-based Federal Community Defender Office, attacking the organization's ethics and accusing it of manipulating the judicial process.
Castille said Pennsylvania needs to regain control over death-penalty cases to keep the federal defenders from maintaining a "monopoly" in state capital litigation.
"The circumstances and obstructionist effect of the FCDO's silent takeover of the capital [Post-Conviction Relief Act] defense function in Pennsylvania requires that Pennsylvania reassert control over the litigation of state capital matters. Death-penalty opponents, such as the FCDO, can then redirect their efforts to the political arena, where they belong," Castille said. "This court has a responsibility for the entire Pennsylvania judicial system, to ensure the delivery of swift, fair, and evenhanded justice in all cases."
Castille criticized the defenders for what he perceived as the pursuit of a "pervasive" private agenda at the expense of taxpayer funds.
He added, "The reality is that the FCDO has deliberately overburdened the state courts with its resources and tactics, and its tentacles can be found in other stages of litigation as well, including amicus work on behalf of foreign governments and their citizens who commit murders in the United States."
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