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July 24, 2012

Georgia Supreme Court grant stay on protocol litigation, not MR issues, for Warren Hill

As reported in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the ""Georgia Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of condemned killer Warren Hill, but not for the reason his case attracted national attention." Here are the basic details:

For more than a decade, Hill’s lawyers have sought to halt the execution on grounds the 52-year-old is mentally disabled. But Monday, with less than two hours to spare, the state high court unanimously granted the stay to determine whether a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol violates state law. The court agreed to hear Hill’s appeal of a Fulton County judge’s decision issued earlier in the day.

Separately, by a 6-1 vote, the court declined to hear Hill’s appeal challenging the state’s standard to determine whether an inmate is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution. Justice Robert Benham, the lone dissenter, said he would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.

Hill is on death row for the 1990 bludgeoning death of a fellow inmate at a southwest Georgia prison. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend in 1985. Hill’s case attracted the attention of national and state advocacy groups for the developmentally disabled, who had asked for Hill to be allowed to serve the rest of his life in prison without parole. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, had made a similar plea for mercy....

Hill learned his 7 p.m. execution had been called off after he had already eaten what he must have thought was going to be his final meal. He had decided to eat the same fare served Monday to inmates at the state prison in Jackson: bean and beef burrito, rice, corn, collard greens and cookies. He was given his pre-execution physical and had been taken to a holding cell near the death chamber.

“I’m just profoundly grateful the Supreme Court granted this stay,” Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s lawyers, said. “A terrible miscarriage of justice was avoided, for now.” It could be months before the state Supreme Court decides Hill’s appeal. The court’s self-imposed deadline calls for a decision by April 14 of next year, perhaps enough time for advocates for the developmentally disabled to ask the state Legislature to change the state’s burden of proof for “mental retardation” claims.

July 24, 2012 at 04:56 AM | Permalink


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“I’m just profoundly grateful the Supreme Court granted this stay,” Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s lawyers, said. “A terrible miscarriage of justice was avoided, for now.”

Yes, because it's such a terrible miscarriage to execute someone who kills in prison while there for a previous murder.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 24, 2012 8:48:59 AM

Yeah but, just like James Holmes, he didn't do it!

Well, he didn't mean to. Well, he didn't know that it was wrong...well, the 2nd time he may have known it was wrong, but not been able to control his impulse due to his diminished capacity…
THOUGH not so diminished as to succeed in the Navy.

"He was not in special education classes and served in the Navy, where he received promotions, the state has said."

Ah well, evidence shmevidence, reasoning shmeasoning.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 24, 2012 10:54:03 AM

pre-execution physical???

We have to make sure you're healty before we kill you.

Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2012 12:19:36 PM

yea pretty silly isn't it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 24, 2012 1:32:15 PM

A pre-execution physical and a post-execution autopsy are usually for the protection of the state. It helps them defend against any postmortem claim that they mistreated the prisoner. The physical also might be used to find the best veins for the needle, and to weigh the prisoner because the dose of some execution drugs might need to be adjusted for prisoners who weigh over a certain amount.

Posted by: arfarf | Jul 24, 2012 5:25:30 PM

Are all of the commenters above ghouls, who monitor executions nationwide, and get aroused every time a state snuffs someone out?

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 25, 2012 1:21:40 AM

ghouls? nope! just a realist! if it was up to me the day of the execution a guard would simply walk up to the cell and put a bullet to work...

no fuss no muse!

trust me a 357 magnum bullet to the brain IS painless! as well as QUICK

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 25, 2012 10:13:30 AM

Something like that happened in the case of a Soviet serial killer.


Posted by: Joe | Jul 26, 2012 9:49:00 AM

nice link joe!

who said the russians can't do anything right! or to TEACH us something!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 27, 2012 3:17:28 PM

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