Sunday, 23 February 2014

The State of Missouri Just Can't Wait to Kill

I had previously mentioned the case of Herbert Smulls, a man executed by the State of Missouri before the United States Supreme Court had even finished deciding on his petition for a stay of execution.

CBS and The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen (a must-follow for anyone interested in the U.S. criminal justice system) has written a follow-up piece on Smulls, and it appears that the behaviour of Missouri officials has not gone unnoticed by either the 8th Circuit or the Supreme Court.

Below is the letter from the Clerk of SCOTUS to the Missouri Attorney General, asking them to file a second response to a petition to stay Samuels' and a number of other death row inmates' executions.  As Cohen notes, at the very minimum, SCOTUS is telling Missouri that Samuels still hasn't exhausted all his appeals, and that they are not viewed by the Supreme Court as being frivolous.

Cohen's article is well worth a read, and is further evidence, not that it were really needed, that even if you agree with the death penalty, it is a lot more complicated in practice than it is in the abstract.  The behaviour of Missouri's state lawyers in recent months has been unethical, immoral and just short of unlawful.

It is also certain to put a question mark over Governor Jay Nixon's judgment, and dim his star as a potential Vice Presidential pick in 2016.

Haste is often unseemly, and never more so than when a state is seeking to execute a man.

No comments: