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Landmark Cases

PANETTI v. Nathaniel QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division.

127 S.Ct. 2842 (2007)

In 1992 PANETTI drove to the home of his estranged wife

Tried for capital murder in 1995, PANETTI sought to represent himself. The court ordered a psychiatric evaluation, which indicated that petitioner suffered from a fragmented personality, delusions, and hallucinations. He was found competent to be tried and to waive counsel. At trial he claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity.

He was convicted & sentenced to death. All Appeals were denied. A PhD & a Law Professor met with him the night before his execution, said he was insane. 2 state psychiatrists (MDs) said he understood reason for execution. Supremes held:

(1) TX’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's (AEDPA) prohibition against “second or successive” applications did not stop his plea

(2) state court failed to provide defendant the procedures he was entitled to under the Constitution, as explained in Ford, with respect to his claim that

he was incompetent to be executed; and

(3) prisoner's documented delusions should have been considered in determining whether he was incompetent to be executed;

Ford identifies the measures a State must provide when a prisoner alleges incompetency to be executed.

5:4 rulings with strong dissent