Texas prisoner seeks suspension of execution for asking pastor to serve him at the last minute


Capital case

The Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, where the state’s execution chamber is located. (Nick DiFonzo from Flickr)

A Texas prisoner asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to block his execution, arguing that the state’s refusal to let his spiritual adviser lay his hands on him and pray loudly in the execution room violated the Constitution and the federal protection of religious freedom. law. People in prison.this Require John Ramirez, who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, once again brought back the issue of religious rights during the execution of the death sentence to the judges. In the past two years, the judges have faced a series of urgent requests for spiritual counselors. Execution.

Earlier cases focused on whether prisoners can have a spiritual counselor to accompany them in their last moments. In February 2019, the court Alabama allowed The country refused to allow Ray to execute the Muslim man Dominic Ray after having an imam by his side in the execution room, even though the country at the time allowed a Christian priest in the room.

One month later, the court Ban Texas The execution of a Buddhist prisoner Patrick Murphy is prohibited unless he is allowed to have a Buddhist priest by his side. In agreeing to block Murphy’s execution decision, Judge Brett Kavanaugh emphasized that under Texas policy at the time, Muslim and Christian prisoners were allowed to have spiritual counselors with them in the execution room, but prisoners of other faiths -Like Murphy—No. Kavanaugh acknowledged that although Texas may have good reasons to restrict access to the execution room, the solution is to exclude all spiritual advisors from the execution room, rather than selecting based on religion.

After the court issued an order in Murphy’s case, Texas adopted a new policy to close the execution chamber doors to all spiritual advisors. This prompted Ruben Gutierrez, a Catholic prisoner, to go to the Federal Court, arguing that the new policy violated his religious rights. In June 2020, the Supreme Court Postpone the execution of Gutierrez And instruct the district court to determine whether allowing the prisoner to choose his spiritual counselor would endanger the safety of the execution.Seven months later, the District Court concluded that no, the Supreme Court Send Gutierrez’s case back to the lower court Let them re-examine the case based on the findings of the district court.

Finally, in February 2021, the court ruled that Alabama Unable to execute Willie Smith III, unless it allows him to have his pastor by his side in the execution chamber.

The request submitted to the judge on Tuesday is different from the previous case because it not only involves the presence of the consultant in the execution room, but also the behavior of the consultant during the death penalty injection. Ramirez asked his Baptist priest Dana Moore to put his hand on Ramirez and pray loudly when Ramirez was executed. He went to federal court in August because the state of Texas-which revised its policy in April to allow mental counselors in the execution room-would not approve the request.The District Court rejected Ramirez’s September 2nd request to postpone the execution of the death penalty, and on Monday rejected the request of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Refuse to interfere.

Ramirez was sentenced to death for the murder of a convenience store clerk Pablo Castro in 2004. He asked the judge to suspend the execution and review his Facts of the caseHe argued that his challenge was not a procrastination strategy, and pointed out that he first raised the question of mental counseling a year ago. Ramirez emphasized that under the Texas policy, his pastor can only “stand in a small corner of the room like a potted plant”, although Ramirez believes that the laying on of hands “will help him from birth to Die and lead him to the path of death”. Afterlife. “

Ramirez’s request for a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty was passed to Judge Samuel Alito, who was responsible for handling the urgent request of the Fifth Circuit. Alito can decide on the request on its own, or, more often on important substantive issues, submit the case to a collegiate panel for trial. As Ramirez’s death sentence is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, the case may move forward quickly.

This article is Originally published in Howe on the Court.



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