X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Scott Louis Panetti was convicted in Texas of killing his wife’s parents and was sentenced to death. In his state habeas corpus petitions, Panetti argued that he was presently incompetent and so could not be executed. Based on a clinical psychologist’s report that Panetti understood that he would be executed and why, the state court denied Panetti’s requested relief. Panetti raised the same issue in his federal habeas petition. After hearing experts from both sides, the district court found that Panetti suffered from some type of mental illness, which may have been schizoaffective disorder, and that he suffered from delusions that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs, but the district court also found that Panetti was aware that he would be executed, that he committed murders for which he was convicted and sentenced to death, and that the state’s reason for executing him was because he committed two murders. The district court thus concluded that Panetti was competent to be executed. On appeal, Panetti argues that he lacks rational understanding of the state’s reason for the execution because he believes that the real reason the state is executing him is not because of his past crimes, but because it wants to punish him for preaching the Gospel. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court explains that this court has adopted Justice Powell’s concurrence in Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), that focused on the defendant’s actual belief in whether he would be executed. The district court properly relied on Barnard v. Collins, 13 F.3d 871 (5th Cir. 1994), a case similar to this one, where a finding that the defendant knew he was going to be executed and why he was going to be executed satisfied the Ford standard. The court rejects Panetti’s attempts to characterize Barnard as inconsistent with other decisions by this court. In one case, Johnson v. Cabana, 818 F.2d 333 (5th Cir. 1987), the constitutional standard for competency to be executed was not even at issue in the case, while Lowenfield v. Butler, 843 F.2d 183 (5th Cir. 1988), did not address or resolve whether competency requires a rational understanding of the reason for the execution. “Because we hold that”awareness,’ as that term is used in Ford, is not necessarily synonymous with”rational understanding,’ as argued by Panetti, we conclude that the district court’s findings are sufficient to establish that Panetti is competent to be executed.” OPINION:Garza, J.; Higginbotham, Garza and Stewart, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.