BREAKING: Supreme Court Rejects Warren Hill Petition

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Warren Hill

Warren Hill

Georgia authorities continue to pursue the execution of Warren Hill despite the fact that:

  • The victim’s family opposes the execution
  • Several jurors from the trial now object to the execution
  • All 7 doctors who have examined him now agree that Hill is intellectually disabled
  • The U.S. Supreme Court banned execution of the intellectually disabled in 2002

With an assist from the U.S. Supreme Court, which today rejected Warren Hill’s petition for relief, Georgia may get its way.

Earlier this year three state doctors, who testified in 2000 that Mr. Hill did NOT have “mental retardation” (the legal term for intellectual disability), submitted sworn affidavits revising their diagnoses and agreeing that, yes, he DOES have “mental retardation.” But federal courts ruled that they were procedurally barred from hearing this new information. Hill had petitioned to reverse that.

The failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in this and other cases is emblematic of its broader failure to ensure fairness in the impossibly flawed U.S. death penalty.

With this rejection, Hill will not be in any immediate danger of execution, because of a lawsuit over Georgia’s “Lethal Injection Secrecy Act,” but it looks now as if the new information will never get a full hearing.

The Supreme Court has missed an important opportunity to strengthen its ban on executions of the intellectually disabled, and has reinforced an impression that the Court is willing to let death penalty states undermine one of its most significant rulings. Other prisoners with strong claims of intellectual disability, such as Marvin Wilson in Texas who had an IQ of 61, have also gone to their execution without any sign of concern from the Supreme Court.

The failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in this and other cases is emblematic of its broader failure to ensure fairness in the impossibly flawed U.S. death penalty. Procedural bars enacted by Congress and affirmed by the courts have made it so that even an execution that would clearly violate the Constitution somehow cannot be stopped.

As 11th Circuit federal judge Rosemary Barkett wrote in her stinging dissent in this case [p. 40]:

The idea that courts are not permitted to acknowledge that a mistake has been made which would bar an execution is quite incredible for a country that not only prides itself on having the quintessential system of justice but attempts to export it to the world as a model of fairness.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now failed to act, demonstrating definitively that capital punishment is a runaway system that must be abolished. It is clear that to prevent these kinds of miscarriages of justice, ending the death penalty is the only solution.

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3 thoughts on “BREAKING: Supreme Court Rejects Warren Hill Petition

  1. How can the state defy a Supreme Court decision? The Georgia legal system is jusy plain nuts

  2. If we had institutions and staff where people would be taken care of when mentally ill this would not have happened in the first place. Is it there fault that we give out so much money in wars, that we cannot take care of our people at home? I do not think so. Look at how far we have come, to stubborn to take new evidence in consideration? It is like grounding your child for something you find out they were not responsible, and then keeping them grounded anyway. Not very logical. There is a man's life at stake and they are following the rules.

  3. Among others Amnesty is a little window. We come to know of things between the lines – side issues which we are least likely to know through mainstream media.

    Ubi jusbi remedium. There is a remedy for every malady. If the law does not provide for a remedy in the event of supreme court's order is undermined one has to be enacted.