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June 28, 2007

Panetti prophesies?

As detailed here at SCOTUSblog, today is likely the last day of the Supreme Court term and the Justices are expected to release their final opinions.  A school integration ruling will likely be the biggest story, but the Court's work in Panetti, the case from Texas concerning the constitutionality of executing a delusional defendant, will also surely garner attention.

Most court-watchers expect Justice Kennedy to be authoring Panetti, and it likely will be a 5-4 decision.  But since Justice Kennedy has split his votes in the major capital cases this Term (unlike the other eight Justices), we cannot be sure whether the defendant or Texas will prevail in Panetti.  And, for the broader operation of capital justice systems nationwide, exactly what the Justices say in Panetti is ultimately more important than how they resolve Mr. Panetti's appeal.

I will be on the road and off-line while heading to a conference today, but SCOTUSblog and death penalty blogs will surely have plenty of Panetti coverage while I'm away.  And readers are encouraged (before and after the opinion is released) to predict whether Panetti will be profoundly important or largely insignificant to the modern administration of the death penalty in the United States.

UPDATE:  How Appealing has all the news coverage of Panetti here, and Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog reviews the opinion here.

June 28, 2007 at 08:19 AM | Permalink


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On a first read, the Panetti majority (while denying doing so) shifts the Ford standard significantly in favor of the defendant. Lack of rational understanding due to mental illness appears to be the new magic words, and those words should be a lot more magical for death row inmates than those from Ford have been.

Posted by: anonymouse | Jun 28, 2007 9:39:47 PM

There is also a lot in there for non-criminal types, since it discusses the list of sins that can take a procedure outside due process.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jun 29, 2007 11:53:32 AM

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