COMMENT: LIVES IN DEFENSE COUNSEL'S HANDS: THE PROBLEMS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEFENSE COUNSEL REPRESENTING MENTALLY ILL OR MENTALLY RETARDED CAPITAL DEFENDANTS Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2009 The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues 
The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues

COMMENT: LIVES IN DEFENSE COUNSEL'S HANDS: THE PROBLEMS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEFENSE COUNSEL REPRESENTING MENTALLY ILL OR MENTALLY RETARDED CAPITAL DEFENDANTS

Spring, 2009

The Scholar St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues

11 SCHOLAR 413

Author

REBECCA J. COVARRUBIAS*

Excerpt

I. Introduction

On January 2, 1996, Jeffery Lee Wood sat in a parked vehicle while his accomplice robbed a convenience store and fatally shot the store clerk. 1 After the shooting, Wood entered the store, helped remove the store's cash box, safe, and videotape recorder, 2 and then drove the getaway car. 3 For his participation in that offense, Wood was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in March 1998. 4

On August 14, 2008, fewer than twenty days away before his scheduled execution, Wood filed a motion in a Texas state court "requesting appointment of counsel and appointment of a mental health expert" to help him investigate, develop, and present evidence regarding a claim that he is incompetent to be executed. 5 Wood based his request on two previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions. 6 The first, Ford v. Wainwright, 7 held that it is unconstitutional to execute mentally ill defendants. 8 The second, Panetti v. Quarterman 9, held that once a capital defendant, who is seeking a stay of execution, makes "a substantial threshold showing of insanity," the defendant must receive certain minimal due process protections. 10 Those due process requirements include, but are not limited to, a right to have an evidentiary hearing and an opportunity to submit expert evidence. 11

On August 21, 2008, within hours of his scheduled execution, Wood obtained a stay when a federal judge determined that Texas courts had deprived him of his right to assistance of a mental health ...
 
 
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