Past Ala. Justices Back Inmates' Claim That State Calls 'Fiction'

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Three former Alabama Supreme Court justices are asking the nation's highest court to hear the case of Alabama death row inmates who say they don't have adequate legal representation, but the state argues the inmates' claim is "a work of fiction."

The three justices, a former appellate judge and three former presidents of the Alabama State Bar filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying in support of six death row inmates who filed a claim with the U-S Supreme Court last month saying they can't file later appeals without lawyers, which the state doesn't provide.

Alabama is the only state that doesn't provide condemned inmates with attorneys for "post-conviction" appeals. The six inmates are represented by a nonprofit advocacy group.

The claims, filed Friday, said death row inmates in essence, need a lawyer to prove they need a lawyer and argue that Alabama violates the Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the U-S Constitution.

The brief was filed by former state Supreme Court Justices Douglas Johnstone, Ernest Hornsby and Ralph Cook, all Democrats; former State Bar presidents Fred Gray Senior, William Clark and Robert Segall; and former Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge William Bowen.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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