Missouri executing prisoners before appeals are exhausted

Missouri officials were so confident that Herbert Smulls' last appeal would fail that they executed him before the Supreme Court's word was in.

This was not an accident or some bureaucratic misunderstanding and did not come as a surprise to Smulls’ lawyers. They say it was the third straight execution in Missouri in which corrections officials went ahead with lethal injection before the courts were through with the condemned man's appeals.

One presumes that they're just being tipped off on verdicts before they're official, but that's not the case. One "alarmed" U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge said a prisoner was killed before they'd even finished voting. The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen seems to suggest that they're sending a message to the federal government:

What is striking here, though, is not just that state lawyers failed or refused even to respond to Smulls’ attorneys but that these officers of the court, and corrections officials, essentially divested the Supreme Court of jurisdiction by killing the litigant.

Notable Replies

  1. Is this one of those cases where the appeals court pretty much never reverses the lower court decision? I see this as a message to the state supreme court that they are irrelevant because they've been a rubber stamp for decades.

  2. dpamac says:

    Sometimes you see news about your state and you are just filled with pride. I mean, we're really good at killing people. Possible innocence, trial errors or evidence shouldn't get in the way. We can sort that out later. Why should we let some stupid legal process get in our way of executing someone? His rights? Bah. He gave up his rights when (insert whatever shit people say at this point to play upon someone's fear nodule). Missouri is pro-life and pro-death at the same time. That's not a dichotomy. Rep. Richard Martin says it best.

  3. MarjaE says:

    So this is premeditated murder [of course all executions, wars, etc. are but these ones are illegal], deprivation of rights [to an appeal] under color of law, and contempt of court. Is this felony murder?

  4. How is this not being prosecuted as murder? Death sentence or no, these are unlawful killings, not executions.

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