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News Scan

SCOTUS Halts AL Man's Execution:  The U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay Thursday evening, hours after the Alabama murderer was supposed to be executed, marking the seventh time he has avoided the death penalty.  Tracy Connor of NBC News reports that Tommy Arthur, 74, had argued that his sentencing violated the recent Supreme Court decision, Hurst v. Florida, and also challenged the Alabama's lethal injection protocol.  The stay was granted because four justices wanted additional time to consider Arthur's arguments.  Arthur was sentenced to death for the 1982 fatal shooting of a man whose wife he was having an affair with.  He committed the murder while out on work release from prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murdering his sister-in-law.

Soros Spends Millions to Defeat Arpaio:  A group working to defeat Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona has received $2 million in contributions from George Soros.  Scott Bland of Politico reports that Maricopa Strong, the Soros-funded PAC, has spent a total of $2.9 million in the sheriff's race, funding mailers and TV ads attacking Arpaio and promoting Paul Penzone, the Democratic candidate.  Arpaio's campaign has criticized Soros, calling him a "far-left globalist" that has broken disclosure agreements and is attempting to buy an election.  Soros' efforts are just the latest of his major spending in local law enforcement campaigns over the past year, with his contributions against Arpaio his largest investment in a local race in 2016.  In 2015 and 2016, Soros also spent millions funding campaigns around the county to defeat local prosecutors that do not back his favored criminal justice reform measures.

SC Sex Offender Arrested After Missing Woman Found on his Property:  The case of a vanished South Carolina couple who have been missing for nearly three months heated up on Thursday when investigators discovered the woman alive, "chained up like a dog" in a metal storage container on the property of a convicted sex offender and kidnapper.  Fox News reports that Kala Brown, 30, was freed and her captor, Todd Kohlhepp was arrested.  Kohlhepp is a real estate agent and Brown worked for him.  He is a convicted sex offender listed on the state's registry and was also convicted of a 1987 kidnapping in Arizona.  Brown and her boyfriend Charlie Carver, 32, vanished in late August, and Carver remains missing.  Kohlhepp's overgrown property could hold clues, however, as the sheriff cautioned that as many as four bodies could be on the property.


Re:Alabama execution stay--another lawless stay.

The backstory is that the Alabama AG agreed to a postpone the execution while SCOTUS considered whether a seventh stay would be granted. He should not have.

The story I read said:

Earlier Thursday evening, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn agreed to a two-hour delay of the scheduled 6 p.m. execution so the Supreme Court could review the split 11th Circuit decision, said Horton.

I won't criticize that. A two-hour hold-off is reasonable.

You and I have different opinions about that. I'd agree with the proposition if the Supreme Court would follow its own rules about granting stays, but it doesn't. Too often, and many times as a result of last-minute litigation, the Supreme Court, without even so much as the courtesy of a written explanation, will simply stay an execution. This,in turn, incentivizes defense counsel to reserve claims for last-minute filings.

The"Mother, may I?" nature of this process is unseemly and an affront to the states, and it's exactly backwards. The state sets its date well in advance--the federal courts should bend around that timing, not the other way around.

Additionally, the Supreme Court has tolerated all sorts of lawlessness from federal courts on AEDPA in death cases. Pennsylvania courts were forced to accept the indignity of a capital murderer refusing to submit to their jurisdiction because he became a fugitive--and the Supreme Court didn't lift a finger. And Alabama has even more right to ignore this genteel practice that the oh-so-busy federal courts can't get their act together--remember the Maples v. Thomas oral argument--Justices of the Supreme Court actually (and rudely) questioned Alabama's decision not to waive a procedural default--do other litigants get questioned about their insistence on compliance with procedural rules? Moreover, Maples was allowed to shift his position after losing below---what should have been a serious no-no.

The Supreme Court has done nothing to be worthy of this courtesy, and hence there's no reason for Alabama to be "reasonable."

Additionally, I'll note that one of the four Justices given the "courtesy" penned an unhinged dissent from a stay denial that referenced a lower court opinion comparing Missouri's LI procedures to a "high school science experiment." Other than some misplaced notion of deference to the Supreme Court, why in the world would a State AG not move in the absence of a stay?

In the military, there's the concept of respecting the rank, not necessarily the person. I don't think that carries over.

Roberts deserves a good deal of criticism too. Why should a justice like Justice Ginsburg deserve any courtesy after having penned a dissent which lauded a lower court dissent comparing Missouri's LI procedure to a HS science experiment? Is collegiality more important than justice?

Not surprisingly, the four who needed more time didn't deign to make up their minds:


It seems courtesy isn't a two-way street. Alabama did the "right" thing, and for its troubles, gets jerked around.

No stay should mean game on. And states shouldn't make service of Supreme Court orders any easier.

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