"US Supreme Court rejects Fla. killer's 1st appeal," is the AP report by Bill Kaczor, via the CT Post.
Lawyers for a convicted mass killer who is mentally ill filed a new appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday shortly after the justices declined to hear an earlier case.
In the rejected case, John Errol Ferguson, who is set for execution next Tuesday after 34 years on Florida's death row, challenged the procedure that Gov. Rick Scott used to deny his clemency request.
The high court also denied a stay of execution in that case. It did not explain either decision.
Ferguson's lawyers also filed a separate appeal of a ruling Wednesday by the Florida Supreme Court. The state justices upheld findings by Scott and a trial judge that Ferguson is legally competent to be executed even though he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
"Mr. Ferguson lacks a rational understanding of the reason for his death sentences and the effects of it," said defense lawyer Ben Lewis. "He believes he faces a death sentence because of a communist plot related to his role as the 'prince of God.'"
The Supreme Court order in Ferguson v. Florida is available in Adobe .pdf format. Just to be clear, the legal matter that is still before the Court is the appeal from the Florida Supreme Court ruling on the state's standard regading competency to be executed, which differs from the standard articulated in Ford v. Wainwright.
SCOTUSblog posts, "Court denies stay of execution in Florida case," by Amy Howe.
This afternoon the Court declined to stay the execution (and denied the petition for certiorari) of John Ferguson, a Florida death row inmate convicted in 1978 for his role in eight murders on two separate occasions. In urging the Court to stay his execution and grant review, Ferguson — whose attorneys describe him as having a “history of serious mental illness” and who had been diagnosed as a “paranoid schizophrenic” — had argued that he had been denied due process in his clemency proceedings because (among other things) he never received a clemency hearing. Ferguson also argued that his execution, after thirty-four years on death row, would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Ferguson and his attorneys contended that executing him now would not serve either of the two goals of punishment — deterrence and retribution — advanced by the Court in cases such as Roper v. Simmons and Atkins v. Virginia.
The stay was originally presented to Justice Thomas, who serves as the Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit; he then referred it to the entire Court. Justice Breyer — who has in the past expressed some sympathy for Eighth Amendment claims like Ferguson’s — indicated that he would have granted the application for a stay. The Chief Justice did not participate in Ferguson’s case.
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.