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April 23, 2013

Georgia now has permission, but not needed pentobarbital, for executing Warren Hill

The saga surrounding Georgia's efforts to carry out the punishment of death for a Warren Hill, now more than two decades after his second murder, moved forward yesterday after a big split panel ruling by the Eleventh Circuit.  This Atlanta Journal Constitution article, headlined "Court lifts execution stay; state out of lethal-injection drugs," explains the panel ruling, while also highlights why this long-running death penalty drama seems unlikely to end anytime soon:

The federal appeals court in Atlanta has denied Warren Hill’s bid to halt his execution on grounds he is mentally retarded at a time when the state finds itself out of lethal-injection drugs. 

By a 2-1 vote, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Hill’s mental retardation claims had already been considered and rejected.  The court also said that because Hill only challenged his eligibility for execution, and not his conviction of murder, it could not consider his new claims.

The court lifted its stay of execution, meaning the state can set a new execution date for Hill at anytime.  But the Georgia Department of Corrections is currently out of pentobarbital, a barbiturate used as the state’s sole lethal-injection drug.  “At this time, we are looking into the procurement of the drug,” agency spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said in an email.

Hill’s case attracted international attention this year when three state experts, who previously testified Hill was faking his mental disability, came forward and said they had been mistaken.  The doctors — two psychiatrists and a psychologist — described their evaluations of Hill more than a decade ago as rush jobs and said an improved scientific understanding of mental retardation led them to now believe Hill is mildly mentally retarded.

In 1988, Georgia became the first state to ban executions of the mentally retarded; the U.S. Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional nationwide in 2002.

Judge Rosemary Barkett issued a stinging dissent, saying there is now “no question” that Georgia will be executing a mentally retarded man.  She noted that all seven mental health experts — the state’s and Hill’s — who have examined Hill now unanimously agree he is mentally retarded.   “The idea that courts are not permitted to acknowledge that a mistake has been made which would bar an execution is quite incredible for a country that not only prides itself on having the quintessential system of justice but attempts to export it to the world as a model of fairness,” she wrote.

Hill’s lawyer, Brian Kammer, said he was “deeply disappointed” that the 11th Circuit “found that procedural barriers prevent them from considering the compelling new evidence.”  He said it is likely he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Hill’s claims....

Hill was sentenced to death for killing Joseph Handspike, an inmate serving a life sentence in the same state prison where Hill was incarcerated.  In 1990, Hill bludgeoned Handspike to death with a nail-studded wooden board.  At the time, Hill was already serving a life sentence for killing his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Wright, by shooting her 11 times in 1986.

The full 69-page split panel ruling in In re Hill,  No. 13-10702 (11th Cir. April 22, 2012), is available at this link.

April 23, 2013 at 04:36 PM | Permalink


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"On February 19, 2013, just three hours before the scheduled execution, Hill filed in this Court an Application for leave to file a successive federal § 2254 habeas petition. In support of his Application, Hill refers to the same recanted evidence from the mental health experts on which he had based his third state habeas petition."

That pretty much tells you all you need to know about (a) the garbage nature of the court's stay and (b) the lengths to which Democrat judge will go to save a two-time murderer.

I'd go into detail about how ridiculous Judge Barkett's opinion is, but why bother. Barkett is a criminal-coddling idiot divorced from any sense of propriety or morality. Basically, Judge Barkett's opinion is a foot-stomp with the shrill complaint that killing this guy just isn't fair because she's sure that he really is mentally retarded. (Wonder how he did so well in the military.) But at the end of the day, from an intellectual standpoint who cares what this witch has to say. She has a soft spot for killers.

Oh jeez, there goes federalist again, ragging on some federal judge. Oh the horror, ad hominem. Well, this time, I am actually using an ad hominem argument. When Barkett was on the Florida Supreme Court she joined a dissent that had this to say about an absolutely vicious racially motivated murder:

"This case is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case. Wrongly, but rightly in the eyes of Dougan, this killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered. His impatience for change, for understanding, for reconciliation matured to taking the illogical and drastic action of murder. His frustrations, his anger, and his obsession of injustice overcame reason. The victim was a symbolic representation of the class causing the perceived injustices."

I am sure the victim's mother just loved her 18 year old son's death being characterized as a "social awareness case" and the maudlin excuses for an appalling torture murder. (N.B. One wonders if the moron judge who penned this crap or Barkett ever stopped to wonder how killing an 18 year old, i.e., one who had no responsibility for society's laws could be a "symbolic representation of the class causing the perceived injustices.") Of course, Barkett's keen psychoanalytic abilities came in useful in the Hill case as she was able to determine that Hill is, without doubt, retarded.

But lest one think that this evil witch of a woman is just starry-eyed for capital murderers, or is she just stupid, in addition to being evil? For that all one has to do is check out her flip-flop in United States v. Dodge. She authored a crappy opinion, then when it got punted en banc, she concurred in the en banc result without opinion. Laughable. And then one can look at her Florida Supreme Court decision in Bostick v. State. But in spite of (or because of) all that, Clinton nominated her, and Dems voted for her. But what does one expect from Democrats?

Posted by: federalist | Apr 23, 2013 11:19:48 PM

So much for the hit rod federal death penalty act .

Posted by: Anon. #2.71828³ | Apr 24, 2013 5:13:37 AM

As stated so many times. LWOP is a license to kill, with absolute immunities that not even James Bond has.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 24, 2013 5:49:37 AM

AP, 4/22/13: A 28-year-old man fatally shot and killed his live-in girlfriend inside an apartment south of Seattle,
then went on a rampage that left three men dead, including a neighbor who had phoned 911...Federal Way
Police Chief Brian Wilson said .. the suspect broke down that man's door with a shotgun and killed him.

[T]he suspect confronted officers with a shotgun. They fired upon the suspect, Wilson said, but the man fled
to a nearby parking lot...When they approached him again he reached for a handgun, and Wilson said police
again opened fire. The suspect died at the scene.
Wilson said the victims were the suspect's 25-year-old girlfriend, and three men, ages 24, 46 and 62.

Another use of the only death penalty allowed by liberals. Saving us $millions$ in left-wing demanded appeals costs.

Does the President again esteem that "the Cambridge police acted stupidly", or did they use excessive force as says
NYC Professor (CUNY) O'Brien?

"Now we have captured the two terrorists from Chechnya who come from the troubled region...extremely disturbing,
raising questions as to whether the Boston Police Department captured him with too much force
...the explanation offered...does not ring true...

Muslim, but we cannot understand their motives, not yet. And Obama encourages us to refrain...
hear the words Obama uttered...I hope we will all be witnesses at the Internal Affairs investigation about undue force."

{author of "Out of Many, One: Obama [what a wonderful bloke]..." ruthobrien.com}

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 24, 2013 11:54:28 AM

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