Christopher Handman, Attorney for John Ferguson, has issued a statement on the "U.S. Supreme Court’s Denial of Certiorari Petition and Stay Motion; Tonight’s Scheduled Execution of Mr. Ferguson is Unconstitutional and Unconscionable." Here's the complete statement:
“We are gravely disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court denied John Ferguson’s request to clarify the standard for evaluating an individual’s competence to be executed and denied his request to invoke the Court’s categorical bar on the execution of the insane. Mr. Ferguson has a documented 40-year history of severe mental illness diagnosed repeatedly by state doctors in state institutions. Mr. Ferguson has been profoundly mentally ill for four decades, pre-dating the crimes for which he is scheduled to be executed, but is now deemed suddenly and inexplicably cured.
“The prohibition on the execution of the insane dates from early English common law. The Supreme Court has adopted this categorical exclusion on the execution of the insane. Mr. Ferguson is insane and incompetent for execution by any measure. He has a fixed delusion that he is the “Prince of God” who cannot be killed and will rise up after his execution to fight alongside Jesus and save America from a communist plot. He has no rational understanding of the reason for his execution or the effect the death penalty will have upon him. Under established Supreme Court precedent, Panetti v. Quarterman (2007), Mr. Ferguson’s execution will violate the Eighth Amendment.”
NAMI has issued the news release, "NAMI's Response to U.S. Supreme Court Decision Allowing Execution of John Ferguson; Mental Illness Ignored," via PR NewsWire.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued the following statement by Ron Honberg, national director of policy and legal affairs, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reject an appeal and an emergency stay in the case of John Ferguson—who was executed by the State of Florida on Monday, Aug. 5 at 6:17 p.m. ET.
"NAMI is very disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision. It let stand what we consider to be a violation of constitutional law. The tragedies of John Ferguson's original crimes are compounded now by an additional tragedy –one in which the legal system failed to recognize established medical understanding of serious mental illness.
"While we do not in any way excuse Ferguson's crimes, executing him ignores the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against executing individuals who are too ill to rationally comprehend the reason for their execution."
Last week, NAMI filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Florida Supreme Court had applied an outdated, unconstitutional standard in reviewing Ferguson's sentence. At that time, Honberg stated that life without parole would be a more appropriate sentence.
Earlier coverage of John Ferguson's case begins at the link.
Related posts are in the competency and mental illness category indexes. 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.