US Supreme Court Delays Execution Of Inmate With Dementia

Vernon Madison

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday halted [order, PDF] the planned execution of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison.

Vernon Madison, 67, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection for the killing of a police officer in Mobile in 1985. He was scheduled to be executed on January 25.

Thursday's stay will remain in effect until the Court reaches a decision about Madison's appeal. Psychologists supervising his treatment say he also suffers from memory impairments, including dementia.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that condemned inmates must have a "rational understanding" why they are being executed. The expert has not yet been convicted of any crimes as charges are pending.

"We are thrilled that the court stopped this execution tonight". If the petition for a writ of certiorari is denied, then the stay of execution will be automatically terminated.


Madison's legal team said he had several strokes that left his memory impaired, that he is legally blind, and he can not walk without a walker.

A law enacted in Alabama a year ago eliminates the ability of judges to override juries' recommendations in capital cases.

In another petition, also still pending before the Supreme Court, Madison's lawyers argue that putting Madison to death for a death sentence imposed by a judge when the jury had voted to sentence him to life is "arbitrary and capricious" now that the state eliminated the possibility of "judicial override". Prosecutors have said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police vehicle filling out paperwork. The cert petition argues that executing Madison would be arbitrary and capricious now that the state abolished judicial override. An 8-1 Court found Florida's death penalty regime unconstitutional in a 2016 case because it gave judges significant discretion in key elements of capital sentencing.

Meanwhile, death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm, who killed a Cullman hotel employee during a robbery in 1987, is scheduled to be executed February 22.

But the U.S. Supreme Court in November reversed that decision, saying court precedent had not established "that a prisoner is incompetent to be executed because of a failure to remember his commission of the crime". Three justices would not have granted the stay: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch.

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