Supreme Court to rule in Tennessee inmate’s appeal

Supreme Court to rule in Tennessee inmate’s appeal

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2008 10:30 pm
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether poor death row inmates seeking mercy from state officials have a right to lawyers paid for by federal taxpayers. The justices will consider that question next term in the case of Edward Jerome Harbison, who was convicted in the 1983 beating death of an elderly woman in Tennessee. Federal appeals courts have taken different positions on the issue, making the case a good one for the court to resolve, the Bush administration said. The administration, though, wants the justices to decide that federal law for indigent capital defendants does not extend taxpayer support to state clemency efforts. Separately, Harbison’s execution is on hold after a federal judge ruled that Tennessee’s three-drug lethal injection method amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because of the “substantial risk of unnecessary pain” to the inmate. The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the case, following the high court’s decision in April that upheld lethal-injection procedures in Kentucky. The case is Harbison v. Bell, 07-8521. Published in The Messenger 6.23.08

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