TN Execution OK Despite Court Error: High Court


The Supreme Court says Tennessee can execute a convicted murderer despite a federal appeals court’s unusual admission that it made a mistake in denying one of the man’s earlier appeals, the Washington Post reports. The high court ruled, 5 go 4, that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit had failed to “accord the appropriate level of respect” to Tennessee courts when it reversed itself and tried to stop the execution of Gregory Thompson last year. The panel cited previously undiscovered evidence that Thompson was schizophrenic at the time of the crime.

“Tennessee expended considerable time and resources in seeking to enforce a capital sentence rendered 20 years ago, a sentence that reflects the judgment of the citizens of Tennessee that Thompson’s crimes merit the ultimate punishment,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, reading his dissenting opinion from the bench, that the court may have countenanced a “miscarriage of justice.” An intern for appellate judge Richard Suhrheinrich, a conservative appointee of President George H.W. Bush, went into the record of the case and discovered a doctor’s report suggesting that Thompson had indeed been schizophrenic at the time of the crime, and his attorneys could have found out in 1985.


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