US federal judge delays execution of lone woman sentenced to death again

A US federal judge has said the Justice Department broke the law by delaying the execution of the only woman on death row last month, potentially pushing her execution in the new administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

Key points:

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss on Thursday rescinded an order from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, part of the Department of Justice, which had postponed the execution of convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery until January 12.

President Donald Trump’s administration has postponed 13 executions since July, when Republicans resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus.

Ten of them have already been put to death and two more are planned before his departure. This could mean that Mr. Trump would be the most prolific executive president for more than 130 years.

The Department of Justice resumed enforcement of the federal death penalty earlier this year after a 17-year hiatus (AP / The Tribune Star: Austen Leake)

The last time executions took place during a lame duck period was during Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the 1890s; his administration killed 14 people that year.

If her execution is carried out, Montgomery would be the first woman to be executed at the federal level since 1953.

Delays could push execution date beyond Trump’s presidency

Montgomery’s execution was originally scheduled for Dec. 8, but Judge Moss agreed last month to delay after his lawyers fell ill with COVID-19 and were unable to file a clemency on his behalf.

On November 19, Justice Moss gave Montgomery’s lawyers until December 24 to file the pardon application and granted him a stay of execution until December 31.

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On November 23, the Prisons Office announced that it was postponing his execution until January 12, 2021.

Justice Moss sided with lawyers for Montgomery on Thursday, who argued federal regulations prohibited the Bureau of Prisons from postponing an execution during a suspended period.

A close-up of Joe Biden associated with an image of Donald Trump. A close-up of Joe Biden associated with an image of Donald Trump. Montgomery’s execution could be postponed until Mr Biden, who opposes the death penalty, takes office on January 20. (AP: Andrew Harnik / Alex Brandon)

Under Judge Moss’ Thursday order, the Bureau of Prisons cannot set a new date for Montgomery’s execution until January 1.

Department of Justice rules require detainees to be informed of their execution date at least 20 days in advance, except when the date follows a postponement of less than 20 days.

That means Montgomery’s execution could be postponed after Mr Biden, who opposes the death penalty, takes office on January 20.

The Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, who resigned earlier this week, resumed enforcement of the federal death penalty earlier this year after a 17-year hiatus.

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Montgomery, now 52, ​​was convicted in 2007 of kidnapping and strangling eight-month-pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett.

Montgomery then cut the baby, who survived the attack, out of the womb.

His lawyers had said Montgomery had long suffered from serious mental illness and had been sexually assaulted.

Neither Sandra Babcock, a Montgomery lawyer, nor the Justice Department immediately responded to a request for comment on the Christmas vacation.

ABC / fils

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