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Supreme court shortens death-row appeals steps

Signaling its growing impatience with lengthy appeals against death sentences , the Supreme Court Monday eliminated one step in the process sometimes used by death-row inmates to delay their executions. In a 7-to-2 opinion, the court ruled that lower appeals courts need not conduct a so-called ''proportionality review'' in capital cases before handing down death sentences.

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In such a review, appeals courts examine a death sentence to decide whether it is consistent with sentences given to people convicted of similar crimes under similar circumstances elsewhere in the state.

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