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By Jack King
NACDL News columns.
Supreme Court Blocks Execution of Schizophrenic
Defense lawyers, legal scholars, and mental health advocates breathed a
sigh of relief June 28 when the Supreme Court narrowly reversed the case
of a mentally ill Texas death row inmate. The National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) applauded the ruling for upholding
centuries of “compassionate precedent” over recent attempts to
streamline death sentences in the state and federal courts.
In Panetti v. Quarterman, petitioner Scott Louis Panetti had been found
competent to stand trial and was convicted of capital murder, despite
evidence of psychotic episodes dating back years. On death row, his
condition worsened, and although it was alleged that Panetti knew the
state intended to execute him for the murders of his wife’s parents, it
was not credibly disputed that Panetti now believes that the state’s
reason is a “sham,” and that the state actually wants to kill him to
stop him from “preaching.” Mot
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