- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says the federal government should pay federally appointed lawyers for working on state clemency requests for death row inmates.

Convicted murderer Edward Jerome Harbison wanted the government to pay for his federal public defender to represent him in a clemency petition to the Tennessee governor. But lower courts and the Justice Department said that federal public defenders can only be paid to work on cases in the federal system.

The high court overturned that decision.

The nation’s Court of Appeals had split on the question, with some saying federal public defenders could also get taxpayer dollars for working on state clemency petitions.

Harbison was convicted in the 1983 beating death of an elderly woman in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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