Georgia Executes Warren Hill: SCOTUS Allows Execution to Proceed

The State of Georgia executed Warren Hill today, despite arguments that Mr. Hill was intellectually disabled.  Last minute arguments made to the Supreme Court were unsuccessful.  

 

The Supreme Court issued orders today in the Hill case are important to all death penalty defense issues as hints regarding how the High Court will be ruling in future cases involving capital punishment. 

There were only two dissents in the Warren Hill matter. Justices Breyer and Sotomayor would have granted the stay of execution.   

Read the SCOTUS orders here and here

Hill's argument was that the case of Hall v. Florida should apply to his case to find unconstitutional Georgia's law that there only be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he is so severely intellectually disabled to be executed.  

Interesting point to consider:  Hill was executed by lethal injection.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Glossip v. Gross, where it is argued that lethal injection drug procedures are unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.

 

Will Georgia Execute Mentally Challenged Warren Hill?

 Regardless of the protections intended by Atkins v. Virginia, executions continue to proceed in this country of Death Row inmates with significant mental challenges.  It’s something that Terry Lenamon is dedicated to fighting as part of his work in defending individuals facing capital punishment in the death penalty phases of their criminal trials.  

Warren Hill

 
Sadly, state governments are still proceeding with executions of people suffering serious mental illness or severe mental disability (which some SCOTUS opinions reference as “mental retardation”).  Consider the Texas case of schizophrenic Scott Panetti  with its eleventh hour fight for a stay of execution last month.  
 
Now, Georgia has set January 27, 2015, as the execution date for Warren Hill,  a man whose intellectual disabilities are not in controversy.  If Hill had been convicted in Florida or Texas, even, he might well not be facing capital punishment because of his mental condition.
 
However, because Atkins allows each state to set up its own procedures for deciding mental conditions that prevent the death penalty under constitutional law as being cruel and unusual, Georgia is moving forward.
 
Hill’s lawyers are seeking a stay based upon the argument that this legal standard is unconstitutional in much the same way as the Supreme Court determined in Hall v. Florida concerning the Florida standard.

Death Penalty Around the World: Infographic

 

Pakistan Death Row Executions Scheduled But 14 Year Old Gets Stay

Pakistan has over 8200 people awaiting execution on the Pakistan Death Row and not all of them are adults.  Terence Lenamon agreed to sign on as a "friend of the court" in an amicus brief that was being presented from U.S. scholars and advocates to the Pakistan government in an attempt to stop the scheduled execution of 14 year old Shafqat Hussein.
 
Shafqat Hussein was tried in their terrorism court for a crime that did not have anything to do with terrorism, and found guilty after a forced confession.  
 
He was scheduled to die on January 9, 2014, but international news reports are that his execution date has been stayed by the Pakistani Interior Minister.  
 
It's safe to assume that efforts like those of Terry Lenamon and others signing that amicus brief and doing other things to spotlight what is happening in Shafqat Hussein's case (among others in Pakistan) has helped to stop Friday's scheduled execution.  
 
Meanwhile, many more on the Pakistan Death Row are facing execution as the government lifted its 6 year six-year moratorium and began an execution schedule late last month.
 
The Pakistan Government has a goal to empty its Death Row -- and reports are that it plans on executing 500 people in the first three months of 2015.
 
Execution method:  hanging
 
 
 
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