U.S. Supreme Court to rule in Tennessee death row inmate's appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether poor death row inmates seeking mercy from state officials have a right to lawyers paid for by federal taxpayers.

The justices will consider that question next term in the case of Edward Jerome Harbison, who was convicted in the 1983 beating death of an elderly woman in Tennessee. Federal appeals courts have taken different positions on the issue, making the case a good one for the court to resolve, the Bush administration said.

The administration, though, wants the justices to decide that federal law for indigent capital defendants does not extend taxpayer support to state clemency efforts.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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