Nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mentally ill inmates could not be executed for their crimes unless they were deemed “competent,” a condition that remained vaguely defined for more than two decades. The court tried to clarify the definition in 2007 through the case of Scott Panetti, a schizophrenic inmate in Texas who murdered his in-laws and then, acting as his own lawyer at trial, wore a cowboy outfit and tried to subpoena John F. Kennedy and the Pope. “Jesus Christ, he doesn’t need a subpoena,” Panetti said at one point during the trial. “He’s right here with me, and we’ll get into that.”
Panetti is now scheduled for execution on the evening of Dec. 3. His lawyers are asking for a stay so that his competency can be evaluated; they have petitioned the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend him for clemency, claiming that the execution of someone so mentally ill “would cross a moral line.” Prosecutors claim that Panetti is faking it.
To read the full original article, click here.