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.