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This year I experienced, far and away, the highlight of my 10-year legal career. I argued to the California Supreme Court that Proposition 66—which Californians passed last November by a very narrow margin—was unconstitutional. That Proposition sought to speed up and limit the appeal process for persons who have been sentenced to death. It did so by, among other things, requiring California’s courts to decide death penalty appeals and petitions for habeas corpus within time limits that were far shorter than the time frames in which California’s courts have historically decided those cases. I argued that requiring the courts to speed up their processing of these very important appeals violated both the separation-of-powers doctrine and capital defendants’ constitutional rights, because it would either: (1) cause the courts to miss important issues critical to whether capital defendants deserved the death; (2) so clog the courts with death penalty cases that they would not have sufficient time for the other cases on their docket; or (3) both. I also argued that what voters had been told about Proposition 66 did not align with the true impact that Proposition 66 would have on the courts and on capital defendants.

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