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September 8, 2010

State judge expressing concerns about Kentucky's capital procedures

As detailed in this AP article, a state judge "expressing concerns about how Kentucky's execution procedures handle issues of mental retardation and insanity."  Here are more details:

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said during a hearing that Kentucky's execution regulations appear to be silent on how the state Department of Corrections is supposed to handle those issues when it comes to a condemned inmate. "It seems to me that this regulation could be followed to the letter and someone who is mentally retarded could still be executed," Shepherd said.

Shepherd's comments came during a hearing in a lawsuit brought by 53-year-old Gregory L. Wilson and two other death row inmates challenging how Kentucky adopted its administrative procedure of carrying out an execution.

Wilson was condemned to death for kidnapping, raping and murdering 36-year-old Deborah Pooley in Kenton County in northern Kentucky.  His execution is set for Sept. 16 at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville....

Kentucky's protocol covers a variety of issues, including what to do about a condemned, pregnant inmate, but doesn't address if or how the state Department of Corrections should determine whether an inmate is mentally retarded or insane. "What safeguards are in place to do that?" Shepherd asked.

Brenn Combs, an attorney representing the Department of Corrections, said the department's job is to carry out legally imposed sentences, not to determine their validity. "Everything comes from an order," Combs said. "When an execution is set, it comes from an order from the governor."

Public defender David Barron, who represents the other two inmates in the suit, said not giving an inmate an IQ test before execution is "absolutely absurd," particularly given that a pregnancy test can be administered. "The question is, should the Department of Corrections be allowed to potentially violate the law by not looking into something?" Barron said. "The answer is obviously no."...

Assistant Attorney General Heather Fryman noted that Wilson's case has been in the courts for more than two decades and he never raised mental competency before now. "We've had 22 years of judicial review," Fryman said. "Twenty-two years of litigation is sufficient protection."

September 8, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Permalink


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If the defendant is retarded or insane, he is more dangerous than if sane and intelligent. He must be executed as soon as possible, right after the death chamber is available from executing the lawyer hierarchy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 9, 2010 12:23:41 AM

I have always had the impression that the Kentucky courts don't like the death penalty. They have had only a couple of executions and Baze was decided almost 2 1/2 years ago by the US Supreme Court and none have been carried out yet. Shepherd sounded like he wanted to stay the execution. We will find out tomorrow.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 9, 2010 11:23:21 AM

This judge sounds like a real moron.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 9, 2010 10:03:56 PM

The link takes you to the wrong article. Here's the correct link:

Posted by: Kristin | Sep 10, 2010 10:45:18 AM

Looks like you were right, he stayed it claiming Kentucky death penalty statutes don't protect the mentally ill or retarded.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 10, 2010 4:54:34 PM

One can read between the lines and usually see what way the judges are going. I have to read the order, press reports are reporting it differently. I would expect the KY Supreme court to uphold Shepherd. I hope they vacate and let it proceed, but I doubt it. I just don't think the Kentucky courts have any balls when it comes to the final gambit. I would not mind being wrong on this.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 10, 2010 6:49:05 PM

this judge definitely has an ego problem. Just the way he talks from the bench and his orders have an "aura" of superiority. Let us hope he never gets any higher up the ladder on the state or federal level. Although, he was the judge who had a bench trial and upheld Kentucky's lethal injection. (Baze)

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 10, 2010 6:53:06 PM

I don't understand the logic in his ruling. How is it the DOC's job to determine retardation? That's the job of the courts and his attorneys, not prison staff.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 10, 2010 11:23:30 PM

here in Florida the inmate files a postconviction appeal(I can't recall the number it has, 3. something)in the circuit court where he was sentenced. Usually, it is handled by the same judge who ruled on previous post conviction issues. He rules and it goes to the SC of FL and it usually ends there unless they can get the 11th circuit to allow them to appeal in federal court. Unfortunately, our Governor has become "Can't Sign Charlie" instead of his previous nickname, "Chaingang Charlie" when he was atty general.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 11, 2010 1:06:17 PM

It will be nice when the political career of Charlie Crist is over.

As for this Kentucky judge, hack doesn't even begin to describe him.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 12, 2010 2:41:31 PM

Shepherd sounds like that judge in Marin County,CA last week. I think they each got pissed off that the state scheduled executions before the injunctions were dissolved. We will find out this week what the respective appellate courts think about this. I have a feeling that no executions are going to take place in either state anytime soon.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 12, 2010 5:59:28 PM

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