State claims mentally disabled prisoner is not entitled to a stay, since his arguments have already been rejected in lower courts
The state of Georgia has applied to the US supreme court to overturn a stay of execution for Warren Hill, the intellectually disabled prisoner who came within half an hour of being put to death on Tuesday night.
Georgia’s attorney general has filed a petition with the highest court in the US, arguing that Hill is not entitled to a stay of execution, because of the fact that he has exhausted all legal remedies. The petition states that his lawyer’s argument that the prisoner is “mentally retarded” is not new, and has been rejected by previous courts.
In a riposte to the supreme court, Hill’s attorney Brian Jammer countered that the appeal is indeed based on new evidence – the decision of three doctors to change their testimony that has transformed the case.
It now remains to be seen whether the nine justices of the supreme court wish to become embroiled in this particular challenge. In similar cases, the court has wished to remain above the legal fray, leaving the argument to be fought out by the lower courts.
Georgia has until 26 February to execute Hill, after which deadline it will have to apply for a new death warrant. That may help explain its urgency in trying to overturn the stay.
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