Supreme Court stays execution of Alabama man in judicial override case

UPDATE (6:00 p.m.) The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a temporary stay of execution for Vernon Madison. That has left him unable to remember the crime he committed or understand his looming execution.

The second appeal also notes that the state-appointed psychologist who concluded that Madison is fit for execution has since been suspended because of narcotics addiction. Prosecutors have said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police vehicle filling out paperwork.

Madison suffers from vascular dementia, "encephalomacia (dead brain tissue), small vessel ischemia, speaks in a dysarthric or slurred manner, is legally blind, can no longer walk independently, and has urinary incontinence as a outcome of damage to his brain".

In 1985, Schulte had responded to a call about a missing child made by Madison's then-girlfriend. The jury in his trial recommended life in prison. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that condemned inmates must have a "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why.

The court delayed the execution to consider whether to further review the case.

Currently, 182 inmates are serving sentences on Alabama's death row, three of who have been there longer than Madison.

Madison will be given the lethal injection at 6pm on Wednesday in the death chamber at Atmore's Holman Correctional Facility
Madison will be given the lethal injection at 6pm on Wednesday in the death chamber at Atmore's Holman Correctional Facility

"No state now allows a judge to override a jury's capital sentencing verdict", says the cert petition filed by Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Meanwhile, death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm, who killed a Cullman hotel employee during a robbery in 1987, is scheduled to be executed February 22. An 8-1 Court found Florida's death penalty regime unconstitutional in a 2016 case because it gave judges significant discretion in key elements of capital sentencing. The cert petition argues that executing Madison would be arbitrary and capricious now that the state abolished judicial override.

Alabama lawmakers a year ago abolished the practice of allowing judges to override a jury's recommendation in capital cases.

His attorneys from the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, filed a petition Wednesday with the Supreme Court.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch noted that they would have allowed the execution to proceed.


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