1 of 1
Sen. David Haley
Sen. David Haley
Topeka – State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., is preparing for the special legislation session that has been called Sept. 3.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June (Alleyne v. United States) that the decision to impose a mandatory 50-year sentence for vicious first-degree murders is up to a jury. As a result, the Kansas Legislature is scheduled to convene Sept. 3 for a special session to rewrite its ‘Hard 50’ law and to confirm a host of appointments.
“Current Kansas law allows a judge to make the 50-year sentencing decision, which is what we will have to change during the special session,” said Sen. Haley, of Kansas City, Kan., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “In light of the recent USSC case and the unenviable fact that several pending 'Hard 50' sentences could now come from my home, Wyandotte County, and as a former prosecutor I, too, want to see Kansas' potentially unconstitutional sentencing phase remedied quickly.”
In addition to fixing the ‘Hard 50’ law during the special session, the state Senate will vote on a number of Gov. Brownback’s appointments, including his now chief counsel Caleb Stegall, who the governor recently nominated for the Kansas Court of Appeals.
“This is only my second special session in nearly 20 years of public service, and while I am supportive of correcting the Hard 50 law, the timeline this Special Session has created for confirmation of Gov. Brownback’s first nominee for the Court of Appeals – who happens to be his own lawyer – has created bipartisan suspicion,” said Haley, who will be a committee member during the Senate confirmation hearings related to the nominee.
Urged by Gov. Brownback during the regular 2013 session this year, the Kansas Legislature changed the judicial selection process for the Court of Appeals giving Brownback the authority to handpick nominees subject only to Senate confirmation.
“I did not support or vote for the change in the judicial selection process,” said Haley, the only Democratic lawyer now in the Kansas Senate. “With three independent and co-equal branches of any government – executive, judicial, legislative – I believe no two branches, nor the selection or election of the membership to the same, should be that closely married.”
Sen. Haley represents the 4th Senate District, which includes most of the center and eastern half of Wyandotte County in Kansas City, Kan.