Entries tagged with “Competency

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Mental Illness

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Race

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Executions Overview

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May 11, 2016

Alabama Prepares to Execute 65-Year-Old Mentally Ill Prisoner Disabled by Several Strokes

UPDATE: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit stayed Madison’s exe­cu­tion, order­ing oral argu­ment on his com­pe­ten­cy claim. Previously: Alabama is prepar­ing to exe­cute Vernon Madison (pic­tured) on May 12, as his lawyers con­tin­ue to press their claim that the 65-year-old pris­on­er is incom­pe­tent to be executed.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Federal Death Penalty

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May 18, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of May 182020

NEWS (5/​22/​2020) — Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has stayed the issuance of its man­date in the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion-pro­to­col law­suit until June 8, 2020, to allow the fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 21, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion bar­ring the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment from imple­ment­ing the chal­lenged pro­to­col. A split pan­el of the appeals court lift­ed the injunc­tion on April 7. The order assures that federal…

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Mar 16, 2017

Federal Appeals Court Finds Alabama Prisoner Incompetent To Be Executed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled on March 15 that Alabama death-row pris­on­er Vernon Madison (pic­tured) — who was spared exe­cu­tion last May when the U.S. Supreme Court dead­locked at 4 – 4 on whether to lift a stay — is not men­tal­ly com­pe­tent to be executed.

Jan 29, 2024

Lawyers for 65-Year-Old Prisoner with Vascular Dementia Say He is Incompetent to be Executed Days After Utah Requests Execution Date and Use of Firing Squad

On January 23, 2024, attor­neys for Utah death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Ralph Menzies, who has been diag­nosed with a major neu­rocog­ni­tive dis­or­der known as vas­cu­lar demen­tia, filed a peti­tion in state court alleg­ing he is incom­pe­tent to be exe­cut­ed. Mr. Menzies, who uses a walk­er to nav­i­gate the pris­ons, has been on Utah’s death row for near­ly 36 years. On January 17, 2024, Utah’s attor­ney general’s office filed a motion with courts to set an exe­cu­tion date for him and indi­cat­ed it will use the fir­ing squad. 

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Mental Illness

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Mar 15, 2022

Nashville DA Concedes Tennessee Death-Row Prisoner with August 2022 Death Warrant Is Intellectually Disabled and Ineligible for Execution

Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk is ask­ing a Tennessee tri­al court to vacate the death sen­tence imposed on Byron Black (pic­tured), agree­ing that the Nashville man, who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed in August 2022, is intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled and there­fore inel­i­gi­ble to be executed.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Mental Illness

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Upcoming Executions

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May 07, 2020

News Brief — Texas Appeals Court Stays Randall Mays’ Execution on Issue of Intellectual Disability

NEWS (5/​7/​20) — Texas: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has grant­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion to Randall Mays, direct­ing a Henderson County tri­al court to review Mays’ claim that he is inel­i­gi­ble for the death penal­ty because of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty. The appeals court declined to address claims that Mays’ con­vic­tion and death sen­tence had been taint­ed by racial bias and juror mis­con­duct and that he had been sub­ject to improp­er inter­ro­ga­tion by law enforcement.

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Representation

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Sep 22, 2021

Pennsylvania Court Denies Post-Conviction Relief to Death-Row Prisoner Albert Reid, Remands on Competency Issue

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has, with one excep­tion, affirmed a tri­al court rul­ing deny­ing death-row pris­on­er Albert Reids post-con­vic­tion chal­lenge to his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence. In a 5 – 2 deci­sion issued on September 22, 2021, the court upheld the deci­sion of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas that dis­missed Reid’s post-con­vic­tion peti­tion. The court remand­ed the case on the ques­tion of Reid’s com­pe­ten­cy to stand tri­al and assist in his defense, say­ing the tri­al court had not suf­fi­cient­ly its rea­sons for deny­ing that claim.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Mental Illness

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United States Supreme Court

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Mar 26, 2015

States Struggle with Determinations of Competency to Be Executed

A recent arti­cle in Mother Jones exam­ines lin­ger­ing ques­tions in the deter­mi­na­tion of which inmates are exempt from exe­cu­tion because of men­tal incompetency.

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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United States Supreme Court

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Executions Overview

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Mar 01, 2019

Supreme Court Decides that Executing a Person With Dementia Could Be Unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court has reversed a deci­sion of the Alabama state courts that would have per­mit­ted the exe­cu­tion of Vernon Madison (pic­tured), a death-row pris­on­er whose severe demen­tia has left him with no mem­o­ry of the crime for which he was sen­tenced to death and com­pro­mised his under­stand­ing of why he was to be executed.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Nov 17, 2022

Tennessee Attorney General’s Office Continues to Oppose Local Prosecutors Who Concede that Death-Row Prisoner Is Intellectually Disabled

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office attempt­ed to pre­serve a tri­al court rul­ing deny­ing Byron Blacks intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty claim, argu­ing before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) on November 8. Black’s attor­neys argue that a new law enti­tles him to relief from his death sen­tence because of his intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty, and the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office agrees. However, a tri­al judge denied Black’s claim because it had been pre­vi­ous­ly raised when Tennessee was apply­ing uncon­sti­tu­tion­al stan­dards to deter­mine intel­lec­tu­al disability.

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Race

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Nov 29, 2022

Texas Schedules Execution of Mentally Ill Prisoner Who Ate His Eye, After SCOTUS Refuses to Review Evidence of Racial Bias

Texas is plan­ning to exe­cute a seri­ous­ly men­tal­ly ill pris­on­er who has gouged out both of his eyes because of his para­noid schiz­o­phre­nia. On November 7, 2022, the District Court of Grayson County, Texas set an April 5, 2023 exe­cu­tion date for Andre Thomas (pic­tured, left when arrest­ed; cen­ter, after goug­ing out his right eye pri­or to tri­al; right, after goug­ing out and eat­ing his left eye while on death row). Thomas has been described by his attor­neys as one of the most men­tal­ly ill pris­on­ers in Texas history.”

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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United States Supreme Court

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jul 16, 2020

U.S. Government Hurriedly Executes Wesley Purkey After Overnight Rulings by U.S. Supreme Court Vacate Two Injunctions and a Stay of Execution

For the sec­ond time in three days, the United States gov­ern­ment has exe­cut­ed a pris­on­er after a 5 – 4 overnight deci­sion of the U.S. Supreme Court short-cir­cuit­ed judi­cial review of sig­nif­i­cant legal claims and after the orig­i­nal death war­rant set­ting his exe­cu­tion date had expired.

Feb 14, 2024

Utah Court Rules Prisoner Suffering from Dementia Requires a Competency Assessment Following the State’s Request for Execution

On February 13, 2024, the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake City, Utah ruled that evi­dence pre­sent­ed by Ralph Menzies’ attor­neys of his demen­tia and cog­ni­tive decline requires a for­mal assess­ment of his com­pe­ten­cy to face exe­cu­tion by fir­ing squad. With its deci­sion, the court also vacat­ed a hear­ing sched­uled for February 23, at which the state of Utah intend­ed to request an exe­cu­tion war­rant for Mr. Menzies. As explained in his request for a com­pe­ten­cy hear­ing, Mr. Menzies has been diag­nosed with a major neu­rocog­ni­tive dis­or­der known as vascular…

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Religion

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Federal Death Penalty

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Jul 15, 2020

Wesley Purkey Execution Temporarily Halted as Challenges Pending on Mental Competency, Health Danger to Religious Advisor, and Ineffective Representation

Lawyers for Wesley Purkey (pic­tured), the sec­ond of three fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed dur­ing the week of July 13, are seek­ing to halt his exe­cu­tion, argu­ing that men­tal ill­ness and demen­tia have left him men­tal­ly incom­pe­tent. As Purkey chal­lenges the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of his exe­cu­tion, his spir­i­tu­al advi­sor, Rev. Dale Hartkemeyer, is seek­ing to move back the exe­cu­tion until the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic sub­sides. Hartkemeyer’s law­suit asserts that con­duct­ing the exe­cu­tion dur­ing the pan­dem­ic infringes on his rights as an exe­cu­tion wit­ness by forc­ing him to either betray his…