OUWA – Supreme Court Denies Stay of Execution for Texas Inmate Orlando Hall; Sentence Administered an Hour Later. The Supreme Court Nov. 19 denied a stay of execution for federal inmate Orlando Hall, who was put to death by lethal injection an hour later, just before midnight.
His execution had been delayed for several hours by last-minute filings, but the Supreme Court’s order lifted a neighborhood judge’s injunction that had temporarily halted the execution. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.
The court also rejected, with no noted dissents, three separate emergency requests filed days before Hall’s execution, seeking a postponement.
Hall, 49, was the eighth federal inmate executed since the Trump administration resumed federal executions this past summer. He was convicted of kidnapping and killing a Texas teenager in 1994.
Last-minute appeals for Hall stressed that bias played a task in his death sentence. Hall is Black, and his sentence was recommended by an all-white jury. His lawyers also said that COVID-19 restrictions limited their ability to assist him.
“We pray for all who loved Orlando. May they be comforted by God in their time of grief. Our call to finish the execution continues,” tweeted Catholic Mobilizing Network, shortly after Hall’s death was announced.
Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille and longtime anti-death penalty activist, tweeted Nov. 20 that under Attorney General William Barr’s leadership, “the Department of Justice worked into the first morning hours filing reams of appeals, ultimately succeeding in gaining court approval to execute a Black man who was sentenced to death by an all-white jury. this is often not ‘Christlike behavior.’”
The Supreme Court’s action in Hall’s case was the primary execution decision for Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In 1998, she co-wrote a piece of writing saying Catholic judges shouldn’t need to recuse themselves in execution cases due to the church’s opposition to execution.
[Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as newest justice for the U.S. Supreme Court]
Donna Keogh, from St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, Indiana, has corresponded with Hall for the past 16 years, after meeting him through a parish program providing Christmas presents to inmates’ children. She told CBS News that she doesn’t understand what executing Hall accomplishes.
“My faith tells me that each one life is precious which includes the lives on death house,” she said. “I just don’t see any purpose.”
She also told a reporter that Hall, who has two sons and 13 grandchildren, was remorseful for his crimes and had turned his life around in prison, educating himself and becoming a fanatical reader. She added that he was leaning on his Muslim faith.
On Nov. 18, pertaining to Hall’s pending execution and two other federal executions slated for December, two U.S. bishops’ committee chairmen called on the govt to finish this practice.
“We ask President (Donald) Trump and Attorney General (William) Barr, as an act of witness to the dignity of all human life: stop these executions,” said the statement from Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Earlier within the day of Hall’s execution, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said it had to be temporarily halted while the court examined the problems raised by Hall’s attorneys.
“The court is deeply concerned that the govt intends to proceed with a way of execution that this court and therefore the Court of Appeals have found violates federal law,” she wrote.
Hall and Brandon Bernard, scheduled to be executed Dec. 10, had joined a gaggle of 13 inmates appealing that the drug employed by the federal in executions causes “excruciating pain and suffering before dying” when not paired with a separate pain-relieving drug.
Their attorneys told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that this execution method was in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and weird punishment.
Although the three-judge panel allowed the executions to travel forward, it said the inferior court was wrong to throw out the inmates’ challenge to the execution drug employed by the federal and would allow litigation against this method to continue.
In a separate ruling on Nov. 19, a federal judge postponed the execution of federal death-row inmate Lisa Montgomery until a minimum of Dec. 31, up from the initial date of Dec. 8. Montgomery, who would be the primary woman executed by the federal in additional than six decades, sought the postponement because her attorney had contracted the coronavirus after visiting her in prison.
The execution Information Center said this is often the primary time since 1889 that the federal has administered an execution within the time between a presidential election and therefore the inauguration of a replacement president.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will end federal executions and plans to incentivize states to prevent executions.