"Court Blocks Execution of Mentally Ill Inmate," is the headline at WashingtonPost.com.
By a vote of 5-4, the court said that the law does not bar consideration of convicted murderer Scott Louis Panetti's claim that he is too delusional to understand the state's reasons for planning to put him to death, even though Panetti waited until his execution date was set in 2003 to raise it.
Requiring prisoners to meet the deadline would effectively require every inmate to lodge an "unripe" insanity claim just to preserve the option, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding "to the burden imposed on courts, applicants, and the States, with no clear advantage to any."
The court also held that state courts must permit inmates to introduce their own expert testimony in their appeals, and that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the New Orleans-based federal court that regulates capital punishment in Texas, used an overly restrictive definition of mental incompetence when it rejected Panetti's claim.
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