Federal. The Federal Court of Appeals overturned the suspension of Lisa Montgomery’s execution.

January 03, 2021:

The Federal Court of Appeals overturned the suspension of Lisa Montgomery’s execution.
On December 26 (see) Federal Judge Moss had acknowledged irregularities on January 12 that the Federal Penitentiary Administration (BOP) had set for the execution of Lisa Montgomery. Today, in the same federal district (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington), the Court of Appeals overturned the suspension, and confirmed the validity of the execution warrant set for January 12. One of the attorneys who assist Montgomery, Meaghan VerGow, has announced that they will ask the Court of Appeals to review the case. The Court of Appeal for ordinary cases is composed of 3 judges. The lawyers, before moving on to another level of appeals, namely the Supreme Court, can also ask that the case be reviewed by the full Court of Appeal, what is called the “en banc” hearing.
Montgomery’s execution was originally scheduled for December 8. As NtC reported on November 13 (see), his two court attorneys (Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell) had contracted Covid-19, and claimed that this was due to the “infamous idea of ​​the US Attorney General, Barr, to schedule executions in the middle of the epidemic ”. The short notice with which the Trump administration scheduled the executions (presumably because they were “in time” for the election campaign) forced lawyers to take airplanes, travel in taxis, stay overnight in hotels and go to jail, in order to prepare the series of so-called “11th hour” petitions with which the defenders traditionally seek, at the last moment, to obtain a leniency measure or a postponement of execution. On November 19 (see) Judge Randolph Moss (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington) suspended Montgomery’s execution until December 31, and gave the lawyers until December 24 to submit their petition for clemency. This is because, the judge pointed out, the right of the accused to be best assisted by the lawyers with whom over the years has established a consolidated relationship of collaboration and trust must be recognized. A few days later the director of the Bureau of Prison (the federal agency that oversees federal prisons, and therefore also federal executions) instead of contesting the suspension of execution, took a different path, and set a new execution date for the Montgomery, January 12, 2021. On December 26 (see) Judge Moss had found that the Bureau of Prison did not have the power to set a new execution date, since the previous date was not canceled but only suspended. Moss had “reminded” the BOP that Montgomery’s execution was suspended until December 31, and that only from that date the BOP could set a new date. Moss, however, also added that the internal regulations of the BOP require that a prisoner be warned at least 20 days in advance of his execution, and therefore the execution of the Montgomery could have been scheduled from January 20 onwards, but on January 20 he will swear and the new president, Biden, will take office and very likely would stop the execution. In fact, during the election campaign Biden said he was against the death penalty, and pledged to stop federal executions. Montgomery, now 52, ​​white, from Kansas, was convicted in 2007 of strangling a pregnant girl, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 24, on December 16, 2004, and removing her 8-month-old baby from her womb. It has been speculated that Montgomery’s motivation stemmed from a miscarriage that she may have suffered and subsequently hidden from her family. It’s unclear how or if Montgomery got pregnant recently. Montgomery’s ex-husband told authorities that, after having four children, she had had a tubal ligation in 1990, but that she periodically told friends or acquaintances that she was pregnant. Montgomery, who in the meantime had brought the baby to her farm and reported her birth to the authorities as her own, was arrested the next day. The girl was returned to her father. Federal public defenders Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell have represented Montgomery in recent years, and have prepared her petition for clemency, centered on the very difficult childhood of the defendant, a victim of incest, gang rape and other sexual abuse, and on impaired mental conditions. In addition to Montgomery, 2 other federal executions are scheduled for January 14 and 15: those of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs.

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For the Montgomery case see also NtC 26/10/2007, 04/04/2008, 13/11/2020, 19/11/2020, and 26/12/2020.


(Fonti: Associated Press, NtC, 01/01/2021)

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