The 8th Circuit panel ruling in Middleton v. Roper is at the link.
"Appeals court overturns stay of execution for Missouri inmate," is Jim Salter's AP filing, via the Greenfield Daily Reporter.
A three-judge federal appeals court panel on Tuesday overturned a stay of execution for a condemned Missouri man, hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.
John Middleton was set to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing three people in rural northern Missouri in 1995 out of fear that they would tell police about his drug dealing.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ruled early Tuesday that there was enough question about Middleton's mental health that a hearing should determine if he is fit to be executed, writing in her ruling that he "has provided evidence that he has been diagnosed with a variety of mental health disorders, and has received a number of psychiatric medications over the years." Courts have established that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.
Hours later, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overturned the stay. Middleton's lawyers appealed that ruling. They also contend in a separate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court that Middleton is innocent of the killings.
Middleton, 54, would be the sixth man put to death in Missouri this year — only Florida and Texas have performed more executions in 2014 with seven each.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, "Appeals court removes stay of execution for murderer John Middleton," by Jeremy Kohler.
Koster, in arguing against Middleton's petition for a stay, had argued that the condemned killer could have made the incompetency claim "long before today. But he chose not to." In his appeal to the 8th Circuit, Koster argued that Middleton was not entitled to a stay from the federal courts because he had not exhausted remedies in state court. He also argued that the claim of incompetence has no merit.
"The time for enforcement of Missouri’s criminal judgment against John Middleton is long overdue," Koster wrote.
The appeals panel agreed with Koster that Middleton had not properly exhausted his claim of incompetency within the state court system, and said it had been an abuse of discretion for Perry, a federal judge, to order a stay.
"Appeals Court Removes Stay, Clearing The Way For Missouri Execution To Proceed,"is by Chris McDaniel for St. Louis Public Radio.
"Middleton has provided evidence that he has been diagnosed with a variety of mental-health disorders and has received a number of psychiatric medications over the years," Judge Catherine Perry wrote in her order. "[Other] inmates indicate that he frequently talks to people who are not there and tells stories that could not have had any basis in reality."
In removing her stay, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed -- and said the matter should have first been left to state courts.
"Middleton has not presented his present claim to the Supreme Court of Missouri or attempted to invoke the procedures that are available under state law," the conservative appeals court wrote. "The Missouri court has had no opportunity to consider the claim addressed by the district court or to apply the available Missouri procedures to Middleton’s present allegation of incompetency to be executed."
Middleton's attorneys will appeal to the full 8th Circuit, and then likely to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It would be the state's sixth execution this year, despite the inmate's insistence -- and new evidence -- that suggests he is innocent.
Earlier coverage of John Middleton's case begins at the link.
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. The Court revisited the issue in its 2007 ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman, also via Oyez.