Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Another Death Row Inmate Denied Chaplain of His Choice During Execution

Last month in a widely publicized decision the U.S. Supreme Court  vacated the the stay of execution that had been granted the day before by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to a Muslim inmate who wanted to have his Imam instead of the Christian prison chaplain with him in the execution chamber. (See prior posting). Yesterday a Texas federal district court dealt with a similar request from a Buddhist inmate, and similarly denied a stay of execution because the inmate had waited too long to assert his objections. In this case the prisoner had the option of having a Christian prison chaplain or no chaplain present.  In Murphy v. Collier, (SD, TX, March 26, 2019), the court said in part:
Murphy gave TDCJ little time to decide whether to vary its policy. And Murphy gave TDCJ little time to litigate any legal challenge that would follow. Once informed that TDCJ would not deviate from its policy, Murphy waited over two weeks to file litigation in state court. He filed this action only two days before his execution.
"Given the State's significant interest in enforcing its criminal judgments . . . there is a strong equitable presumption against the grant of a stay where a claim could have been brought at such a time as to allow consideration of the merits without requiring entry of a stay."
Murphy's execution is set for tomorrow.