That's the title of Andrew Cohen's latest post at the Atlantic. It's subtitled, "State officials say John Ferguson is faking his mental illness. The law says the state can't execute an incompetent man. Something's gotta give." Here's the opening:
Florida Governor Rick Scott wanted, finally, to get rid of John Ferguson, but he wanted to appear fair in doing so. The convicted multiple murderer had been on the Sunshine State's death row for decades -- for 34 years, for a generation -- but questions lingered about his mental competency. As far back as 1971, in fact, six years before Ferguson first killed, the state's own psychiatrists had diagnosed him as suffering from "a major mental disorder" that rendered him "psychotic and incompetent." Forty years later, he was hardly better.
So after Governor Scott set Ferguson's execution date for October 16th, and defense attorneys duly alerted officials to their client's diminished mental state, the governor appointed three psychiatrists to a "commission" to evaluate Ferguson, to determine whether he was sane enough to be lawfully executed by the state. The psychiatrists, who had never before seen or treated Ferguson, were ordered to move quickly -- to examine the prisoner on October 1st and issue their report on October 2nd. Here's how the defense describes what happened next:
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.