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Old December 1st, 2014, 10:33 AM   #1
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Texas Execution of a Severely Mentally Ill Man Would Be an Outrage

Texas Execution of a Severely Mentally Ill Man Would Be an Outrage | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

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On Wednesday, Texas plans to administer a lethal injection to Scott Panetti, a man with severe mental illness who was convicted of murder while representing himself in court wearing a cowboy costume. If the state does so, a miserable spectacle of a trial will have led to one of the most outrageous executions of our time.
As Scott Panetti's case illustrates, the safeguards can and do fail. We do execute people with severe mental illness. And he may be the next horrifying example of this failure. -


When Panetti went on trial in 1995 in Kerrville, Texas, he had already been hospitalized more than a dozen times for psychosis related to his schizophrenia. With his life in the balance, he was permitted by the court to argue his own case. He did so in a Tom Mix-style purple cowboy costume and a 10-gallon hat. Among the famous witnesses he tried to call to the stand: President Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and Jesus Christ.

After Panetti took the stand to testify, he spoke to himself in different voices and assumed the persona of “Sarge,” the alter ego he believed was responsible for killing Panetti's mother-in-law and father-in-law with a hunting rifle.
Seems to me Texas executing a severely mentally ill man is in line with their politics and religious cult values. The only sanctity they have is a fetus. Human life means NOTHING to the right wing, with their HUGE cuts in food stamps, affordable housing and health care for the poor they steal to do their fraudulent programs like "Pray away the Gay" and "Rehabilitate a Pedophile".

This is quite in line with the amoral and unethical lifestyle of the right wing in this nation. It's quite anti-Christ, but in line with their values.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 12:12 PM   #2
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Did he know right from wrong at the time of the MURDER? His metal state post-MURDER is legally inconsequential.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 05:40 PM   #3
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Did he know right from wrong at the time of the MURDER? His metal state post-MURDER is legally inconsequential.
both are relevant. his mental state at the time is the more relevant in terms of determining his level of culpability. but his mental state now is also relevant, he has to be capable of understanding the nature of the charges and capable of instructing his lawyer, if he cannot do this he is unfit to stand trial.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 05:42 PM   #4
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Did he know right from wrong at the time of the MURDER? His metal state post-MURDER is legally inconsequential.
You tell us. He'd been involuntarily institutionalized twice prior to the murders. So, I'm going to take, "What is batshit crazy?" for $400, Alex.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 06:22 PM   #5
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both are relevant. his mental state at the time is the more relevant in terms of determining his level of culpability. but his mental state now is also relevant, he has to be capable of understanding the nature of the charges and capable of instructing his lawyer, if he cannot do this he is unfit to stand trial.
The test for claiming a mental deficiency in Texas is severe. Acting goofy in a Court room would not suffice. The Court could remand the accused to a mental institution to regain competency but, we're talking Texas here. Texas is big on the "M'Naghtan Rule", and so am I. If a person knew right from wrong at the moment they committed the crime, that's good enough for me.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 06:24 PM   #6
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You tell us. He'd been involuntarily institutionalized twice prior to the murders. So, I'm going to take, "What is batshit crazy?" for $400, Alex.
Bat-shit crazy is allowing criminals to get away with murder while claiming a mental deficiency.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 06:38 PM   #7
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Bat-shit crazy is allowing criminals to get away with murder while claiming a mental deficiency.
Schizophrenia is a real mental illness. Suffering from it is not "getting away with murder."
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Old December 1st, 2014, 08:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by caconservative View Post
The test for claiming a mental deficiency in Texas is severe. Acting goofy in a Court room would not suffice. The Court could remand the accused to a mental institution to regain competency but, we're talking Texas here. Texas is big on the "M'Naghtan Rule", and so am I. If a person knew right from wrong at the moment they committed the crime, that's good enough for me.
the criteria for being not guilty on the grounds of mental incompetence should be tough, mcnaughtans rule is a good one, most juristictions have something similar. the criteria for being unfit to stand trial also should be tough but are by neccessity different to mcnaughtan. this guy was, from what information i have read about him, certainly unfit to stand trial (at this point in time) and probably not guilty due to mental incompetence, but thats speculative. i agree he should have been detained in a secure psychiatric facility for treatment to regain competence. in reality this often means admission for life because sanity is never recovered. which means there is never a trial, but also means society is safe from his dangerous psychosis.

consider this scenario. a man commits a premeditated homicide by driving his car into the victim. at the time of the offence he is sane, he knows what he is doing is immoral and illegal, it is a straightforward premeditated murder, and he successfully kills the victim. there is no case for "not guilty due to mental incompetence".

but his murder weapon was a car, and immediately after killing his victim he has an accident and suffers a severe brain injury. even after months of rehabilitation he is permanently and totally incapacitated. he is unable to comprehend the most simple terms, unable to form new memories, unable to connect cause and effect. he is therefore unable to understand the nature of the charges and unable to instruct his lawyer and would therefore be unable to stand trial. the law is an ass.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 08:28 PM   #9
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Bat-shit crazy is allowing criminals to get away with murder while claiming a mental deficiency.
yep. but its equally bat-shit crazy to hold the insane responsible for their insanity.

the system sometimes makes it easy for the fakers to get away with it. thats a problem with the text of the law, not the principle that the insane are, well, insane.
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Old December 1st, 2014, 08:52 PM   #10
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yep. but its equally bat-shit crazy to hold the insane responsible for their insanity.

the system sometimes makes it easy for the fakers to get away with it. thats a problem with the text of the law, not the principle that the insane are, well, insane.
In some cases I wonder what is the best or the most humane. Keeping in mind that all analogies are intrinsically weak to some degree, it's like a rabid dog. It isn't the dog's fault but it is still best for society to kill the dog. Some are not curable, and is a life-long incarceration in a facility for the criminally insane a way to live? I have seen documentaries about some in Canada and in the US and it is not a pretty existence.
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