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Roger Cossack on McVeigh request to end death penalty appeals
CNN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack discusses convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's request to drop the remaining appeals of his death sentence.
CNN: Is it common for a condemned inmate to ask to stop appealing a death sentence?
COSSACK: Well, it's certainly not common. Here, what he's actually asking to do, although he's put it in the form of saying, "I want to give up my appeals," he's really saying, "I want a date set for my execution." Obviously that doesn't happen that often.
CNN: Is the judge likely to grant McVeigh's request?
COSSACK: Well, it depends on the findings. One of the things the judge will have to decide is whether or not McVeigh is competent to make this decision. That is, does he know what he's doing, does he understand the importance and the significance of what he's doing? Certainly there is no law that says he has to appeal, so if the judge finds that he knows what he's doing and that this is what he wishes to do, the judge will allow it to happen. Now he may ask for a psychiatric hearing to make sure McVeigh does know what he's doing, but once they find that, I think the judge will allow it.
CNN: What happens next if the judge allows McVeigh to drop his appeals?
COSSACK: They will set an execution date. I don't think it will happen sooner than 120 days.
CNN: Some of the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing and victims' family members have said they want to speak at today's hearing. Is that likely to happen?
COSSACK: I'm not sure if the judge will allow that. It's really an unusual case, because the issues are somewhat different because they are such horrible things, but really this is a legal issue. Whether or not the people want him to appeal or don't want him to appeal is really not of concern. The issue here is whether McVeigh is competent to withdraw his appeals, and if he is, he is.
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