"Georgia asks US Supreme Court to vacate execution stay," is the AP report, via the Fulton County Daily Report, part of the Law.com network.
The state of Georgia is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a federal appeals court order temporarily halting the execution of a death row inmate.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday issued a stay less than an hour before Warren Lee Hill was set to die by lethal injection. The court's order said further review is needed of recent affidavits by doctors who changed their minds about Hill's mental capacity.
Lawyers for Georgia on Wednesday said Hill's federal petition for habeas relief is procedurally barred and said the new statements from the doctors aren't credible.
There is also a great deal of news and commentary on the stays of execution issued by both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Georgia Court of Appeals.
ReutersLegal posts, "Georgia inmate called 'mentally retarded' granted stays of execution," by David Beasley.
Brian Kammer, one of Hill's attorneys, said the execution would be temporarily halted after the stays granted by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Georgia Court of Appeals.
The federal court decision came in response to appeals by Hill's lawyers arguing he is mentally retarded, Kammer said. The decision by the Georgia state court followed a legal challenge over the state's method of executing Hill by lethal injection, he said.
"We are greatly relieved that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation," Kammer said in an emailed statement.
"All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation," he said.
In 1988, Georgia became the first U.S. state to enact a law banning the execution of mentally retarded defendants. But according to death penalty experts, Georgia has perhaps the toughest standard in the nation for defining mental retardation, requiring proof "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"Warren Hill's second stay of execution: 'this is the cruellest thing imaginable'," is by Ed Pilkington for the Guardian
At 6pm on Tuesday night Warren Hill was given a dose of the drug Ativan. A benzodiazepine, it is known for its potency in alleviating anxiety; at that point Hill believed he had just one hour to live.
At 5pm that evening Hill had been offered the chance to make a final statement, which he declined, and an hour before that he had been presented with a last meal of mac and cheese, baked beans, stir-fry vegetables, cornbread, cookies and iced tea. He chose not to eat a morsel of it.
Two weeks ago Hill, an intellectually disabled man who has displayed symptoms of impaired mental capacity since he was a child, was served a warrant for his execution. The sentence, to be carried out 21 years after he was put on death row, was timed for 7pm on Tuesday.
He had been through it all before. Last July he was offered his final meal, the right to make a final statement, and a dose of Ativan before the courts intervened and granted a stay of execution 90 minutes before his scheduled ending.
Slate posts, "Georgia Came Within 30 Minutes of Executing a Mentally Disabled Inmate Last Night," by Abby Ohlheiser.
"Georgia Almost Executed a Mentally Disabled Man Last Night," by Adam Clark Estes at the Atlantic Wire.
"Mentally disabled man granted last minute stay of execution," by Natasha Lennard for Salon.
Today's Washington Square News publishes the editorial, "Warren Hill case re-engages debate on practicality of death penalty."
The debate over the death penalty in the United States has long been part of the national dialogue. However, media attention over the controversial aspects of Georgia inmate Warren Lee Hill’s case has recently intensified the debate.
The nature of this case is particularly interesting. Hill has been proven to have intellectual disabilities, and the Supreme Court considers execution of the mentally challenged unconstitutional, as decided in Atkins v. Virginia in 2002. However, the Court left the precise definition of what qualifies mental retardation up to the states. Georgia has the strictest standard of any state on this issue, requiring proof of retardation beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether the death penalty is morally justified is another question. In Europe, there is little debate over the death penalty, as its abolition is a basic requirement for European Union membership. Beyond Europe, most developed countries — with the notable exception of Japan — have done away with the death penalty. Perhaps the American position presents a fundamental cultural difference or an archaic tradition in regard to mental illness in these cases and the death penalty in general. Someday, that will have to change.
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins at the link.