The American Bar Association has issued the news release, "ABA asks Supreme Court to clarify competency standard in case of Florida death row inmate." Here's the full text:
In a case involving a death row prisoner in Florida who has long suffered from severe mental illness, the American Bar Association is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the Eighth Amendment standard to be applied when determining competency to be executed.
The ABA’s amicus brief in Ferguson v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, filed in support of the prisoner’s request that the court grant certiorari in his case, observes that several courts, including the Florida Supreme Court in this case, have variously misapplied the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedent in Panetti v. Quarterman. In that 2007 decision, the court held that for a prisoner to be competent for execution, he must have a rational understanding of the meaning and purpose of his execution, the ABA notes.
“Holding a person accountable is intended to be an affirmation of personal responsibility. Executing someone who lacks a meaningful understanding of the nature of this awesome punishment and its retributive purpose offends the concept of personal responsibility rather than affirming it,” the brief states, quoting from the amicus brief the ABA previously filed in Panetti.
Thus, the ABA argued in its Panetti brief, when “a death row inmate attributes his pending execution to reasons that only someone suffering from a significant mental disability could espouse — such as a delusion that he is to be executed because of his faith in God — he cannot be said to have the capacity to accept responsibility for his crimes.”
State and federal courts have been unable to apply Panetti in a uniform manner, the ABA’s Ferguson brief argues, stating, “The Court should grant the petition and now clarify the standard courts should apply in determining whether a capital prisoner is competent to be executed.”
The ABA’s Ferguson amicus brief is available online here.
"Schizophrenic US murder convict appeals execution," is the AFP post, via Business Recorder.
The lawyer of a mentally ill man who killed eight people and proclaimed himself "the prince of God" has petitioned the US Supreme Court for a halt to his execution.
John Ferguson, 65, who has a documented history of paranoid schizophrenia, is scheduled to be executed on a Monday August 5 execution at Florida State Prison in Raiford.
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.