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May 27, 2009

Exploring execution competency and capacity to assist counsel

I just noticed this piece on SSRN titled "The Afterlife of Ford and Panetti: Execution Competence and the Capacity to Assist Counsel." Here is the abstract:

The capacity to assist counsel and communicate a defense once held a central place in assessing competence for execution.  Since Ford v. Wainwright (1986), however, courts have discarded this measure, viewing Justice Powell’s concurring opinion, which required only that a prisoner understand the execution as mortal punishment for a capital crime, as the Eighth Amendment rule.  In a significant development, the Supreme Court’s decision in Panetti v. Quarterman (2007) — its first interpreting Ford — sends notice that Justice Powell’s statements on the substantive standard are not Ford's rule, providing a long overdue opportunity to address whether executing prisoners with severe mental illness who lack the capacity to assist counsel contravenes evolving standards of decency.  Current concerns with the execution of innocent prisoners and difficulties determining execution competence since Ford support reinstating the capacity to assist counsel in the Eighth Amendment test.

May 27, 2009 at 09:26 AM | Permalink


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How is the careful serial killer who cannot enjoy sex without cutting a little girl's throat any less impaired than a paranoid schizophrenic stabbing the land lady 50 times to end the oppression of her beaming radar at his brain?

There is no difference. There is only pretext to immunize the extremely dangerous client of the cult criminal. The pretexts are infinite and false. Pretexts should be criminalized as fraud and perjury are. I want to see long prison sentences for any clever innovation by judges.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 28, 2009 9:25:59 AM

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