via Associated Press
The Supreme Court says states must look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed.
…Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that IQ tests have a margin of error and that inmates whose scores fall within the margin must be allowed to present other evidence of mental disability.
UPDATE: Amnesty International USA executive director Steven W. Hawkins responded to the ruling, saying:
Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court may have helped save the life of Florida inmate Freddie Lee Hall. It also set an important precedent that we hope will prevent the future executions of other mentally disabled inmates who are sitting on death row across this nation.
After the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma and the attempts by lawmakers in different states to bring back the electrocution chair—and even the firing squad—the uproar to end to the death penalty in the United States has never been louder or more necessary than it is right now.
At 12:01am tomorrow (Wednesday May 21st), Missouri is scheduled to execute Russell Bucklew by lethal injection. This would be the first execution in the US since the horrific botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma.
Like Oklahoma, Missouri is hiding behind secrecy laws that allow them to conceal where they are getting the drugs that will be used for the execution — increasing the risk that Russell Bucklew will have a similar fate as Clayton Lockett. While the world is moving away from the death penalty, Missouri is on pace for a record number of executions this year.
Bucklew suffers from cavernous hemangioma, a vascular condition that makes him bleed from his eyes and one that medical experts say increases the risk of a painful botched execution. The state’s refusal to stop this execution proves just how cruel the death penalty is and why it needs to come to an end.
From The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen:
Glenn Ford, a black man wrongfully convicted of murder by an all-white jury in Louisiana in 1984, a man who has spent the last 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit following a trial filled with constitutional violations, is on the verge of being set free. Once that happens (and it could happen as soon as tomorrow after a hearing in the case) he will become one of the longest-serving death row inmates in modern American history to be exonerated and released.
Ford’s dogged lawyers and enlightened parish prosecutors in Shreveport both filed motions late last week informing a state trial judge that the time has come now to vacate Ford’s murder conviction and death sentence. Why? Because prosecutors now say that they learned, late last year, of “credible evidence” that Ford “was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder” of the victim in his case, a man named Isadore Rozeman.
UPDATE-1: Amnesty International USA Senior Campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris made the following statement in response to the reports about Glenn Ford’s imminent release:
"After 30 years, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner will get his freedom soon. Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is. We are moved that Mr. Ford, an African American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor. We are more determined than ever to put an end to the death penalty, once and for all."
UPDATE-2: After nearly 30 years behind bars, Glenn Ford walked free on Tuesday: