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Monday, January 2, 2012 - 5:30am

Budget Cuts Threaten Death Row Cases

Some Georgia death row inmates could lose their attorneys amid budget cuts that could potentially halt appeals hearings and even delay executions.

To make up for the gap, the Georgia Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center is poised to ask for more funding this legislative session to keep it from having to lay off attorneys and investigators. The 12-person nonprofit in Atlanta represents or helps to represent about 90 percent of the inmates on Georgia's death row.

The center's supporters warn that the funding crisis could threaten Georgia's capital punishment system. Atlanta attorney Rob Remar, who chairs the center's board, warns the system could "grind to a halt" if the center loses more employees.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Sunday that there's two key reasons for the funding lapse impacting death-row cases: The steep decline in the real estate market and flagging support from Georgia lawmakers.

State lawmakers say they are aware of the problem.