As expected, attorneys for Jack Greene have asked the Arkansas Supreme Court for a stay of his execution, scheduled Thursday.
They raise an argument denied in circuit court last week that it is unconstitutional for state law to give sole discretion for determining a condemned prisoner’s competency to the director of the state Correction Department.
Greene’s lawyers argue that he is mentally incompetent, specifically suffering from delusional disorder. They say Correction Director Wendy Kelley’s decision that Greene was competent to be killed for a slaying in Johnson County was based on an outdated evaluation. They argue that U.S. Supreme Court precedent requires a “fair hearing” by a neutral decision-maker, not a member of the executive branch. A release for Greene’s legal team said:
“It is imperative that, just as the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed Bruce Ward’s scheduled execution in April under similar circumstances, the Court likewise recognize that Mr. Greene’s claims require a stay before November 9th,” said Mr. Greene’s attorney, Scott Braden. “Multiple experts who have examined Mr. Greene in the last two months concur he lacks a rational understanding of his scheduled execution. State and federal law clearly reject outdated mental health evaluations as insufficient, but Arkansas now seeks to deny Mr. Greene a competency hearing based on the opinion of the Director, who is not equipped to assess Mr. Greene’s mental illness and who did not rely on any up-to-date mental evaluation. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to execute Mr. Greene without a fair competency hearing conducted by a neutral decision maker.”
The stay motion argues that Greene meets the state Supreme Court guidelines for a stay because his claim became ripe Aug. 25 when the governor set his execution, his complaint is not frivolous and the complaint can’t be resolved without a hearing. It notes that the Supreme Court has ruled previously that a three-year lag in an evaluation was too long. Green’s evaluation is seven years old.
Bruce Ward’s execution
Multiple experts have said that Greene lacks rational understanding of his punishment, but Greene has objected to a stay of his execution in Arkansas.
Opponents of the death penalty announced today a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion should the execution go forward.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will, of course, oppose the stay.