"New Stay Granted After Emergency Request Denied By Supreme Court," is the AP report written by Tamara Lush and Curt Anderson. It's via Huffington Post.
Following a slew of conflicting court rulings, a federal appeals court Tuesday night blocked the scheduled execution of a mass killer convicted of eight slayings that jolted South Florida in the 1970s. The U.S. Supreme Court quickly upheld the stay.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision came during a flurry of legal decisions over claims that 64-year-old John Errol Ferguson suffers from mental illness so severe he cannot be executed. Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions he's the "prince of God," had faced a planned lethal injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Florida's death chamber.
The Supreme Court rejected an earlier Ferguson emergency appeal Tuesday – as did the 11th Circuit – but the high court would not agree to the state of Florida's request to overturn the later ruling. The appeals court set a schedule for motions that will likely delay the execution at least until the first week of November, if not longer.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office argued in court papers that the late ruling "makes a mockery of the state's compelling interest in finality" in Ferguson's case. He has been on death row for 34 years.
In Washington, the nation's high court noted that Chief Justice John Roberts took no part in the case. There was no further explanation.
Lyle Denniston posts, "Florida execution delayed," at SCOTUSblog.
After the Supreme Court acted, the Eleventh Circuit Court delayed the execution and set a briefing schedule on legal issues surrounding the state Supreme Court’s rejection of the challenge. The state then promptly asked the Supreme Court to vacate that stay, but the Supreme Court quickly refused to do so. The Justices’ final order is here, thus leaving the stay intact.
ABA Journal posts, "New Stay Granted for Inmate Claiming ‘Grandiose Delusion’ Bars His Execution," by Debra Cassens Weiss.
The 11th Circuit order (PDF) granting the stay on Tuesday called for briefs on two issues: whether the Florida Supreme Court correctly applied U.S. Supreme Court precedent on competence for execution, and whether the Florida Supreme Court made an unreasonable determination in light of evidence that Ferguson has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and “has a fixed grandiose delusion that he is the 'prince of God.' "
The 11th Circuit order said court rules require it to grant the stay pending consideration of the merits. It acted after a federal district judge granted a certificate of appealability on mental health issues.
A day earlier, the 11th Circuit had vacated a federal judge’s stay in a 2-1 decision. On Tuesday, before the stay was granted, both the Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit had rejected emergency appeals, the Huffington Post says.
Earlier coverage of John Ferguson's case begins at the link.
Related posts are in the competency and mental illness category indexes. I added the compentency category index in April. Earlier posts dealing with competency to be executed are available under the Scott Panetti index.
The Supreme Court established standards to assess whether severely mentally ill inmates are competent to be executed in the 1986 case, Ford v. Wainwright; more via Oyez. Coverage of Scott Panetti's case begins at the link. More on the U.S. Supreme Court 2007 ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman is via Oyez.