Pending cases at center of ‘Hard 50′ debate

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Legislators and prosecutors seeking a quick rewrite of the Kansas “Hard 50″ law believe they can save the tough penalty in pending murder cases with new sentencing hearings for convicted offenders.

Defense attorneys are skeptical that the state can apply a new law retroactively.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday called a special session of the Legislature for Sept. 3 to rewrite the law. It allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision raised questions about the law’s constitutionality. Supporters of a special session argue lawmakers can change the law and apply it retroactively to existing cases.

Defense attorneys say such attempts will be challenged.

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