SCOTUS, Not Gov. Perry, Grants Hank Skinner a Reprieve

Hank Skinner will not be executed today. With about an hour left before Skinner was to be taken to the death chamber, SCOTUS put an immediate halt to the process.

Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports:

The brief order grants him the delay but does not ensure he will get such [DNA] testing. Perry had not decided on the delay.


In the order, the justices said they would put off the execution until they decide whether to review his case. If the court refuses the review, the reprieve is lifted, according to the order, and Skinner would become eligible for another execution date.

So it looks like the process is back at square one. If the court refuses the review and the reprieve is lifted, a new date will be set and Skinner’s life will be back in Gov. Rick Perry’s hands. Hopefully this case will generate even more attention than it already has and even more pressure will be placed on Perry and others to make sure the DNA testing takes place if SCOTUS doesn’t force the issue first.

There certainly are no guarantees other than the fact that Texas will not risk killing an innocent man on this day.

Hank Skinner Execution Update: Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Deny DNA Test Request

ACTION ALERT: Tell Gov. Perry to Give Hank Skinner 30 More Days

Former Texas Prosecutor and Judge Both Believe the State Has Executed More Than One Innocent Man

  • Catherine

    I’m just relieved.

  • Catherine

    I was referring to Hank Skinner’s reprieve. As for healthcare, I’ve been waiting for this my entire conscious life of 62 years, and am delighted. Fox-washed Americans need to open their ears and be educated. So many people will benefit and not die. But my 34-y/o client who could not get care of his IPF and already has major organ failure, for him it is too late I think.

  • David

    I won’t be surprised if they decided to not review his case. It’s all about money. If he’s innocent they’ll have to pay him millions. Who needs facts and morals when you’re corrupt?

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  • Kathy

    David, I don’t believe that the people deciding whether to review will be worried about compensation, however the sad fact is that Perry and his posse will be all too aware that allowing this exceptional testing of DNA evidence could set a precedent which will open the floodgates for all the unsafe capital convictions on their books – and there are a great many. It would be so much easier if this could be closed down and swept quickly under the carpet. He’s actually in a very difficult place on this. (Most of) his voters will want to see him be firm, some will not give a damn, others will expect fairness. But if he is fair and the DNA points to Hank’s innocence – then it exposes the rotten stench of the Texas criminal justice system. For some, it could be like ‘The Emperor’s new Clothes’ I, for one, suspect that last night’s decision, one way or another, could end up in the history books as a massive turning point for death penalty abolition in the US. Incidentally, I’m not aware of ANY exonerees to date receiving compensation in any significant amount. In the UK a guy wrongfully given a life sentence and exonerated last year was expected to receive in excess of £1million by default given the negligence and wrongdoing of the government offices involved. But Innocence Project tell me that no such mechanism exists in the US. Let alone state-funded counselling, rehabilitation and practical aid. Hence the existence of charities such as ‘Resurrection after Exoneration’. Correct me if wrong, someone?

  • Patricia

    I’m relieved too, Catherine. I traveled to Huntsville yesterday to take part in a vigil that, by grace of God, never had to happen. I agree with you about health care as well :)

    Kathy, sadly, I do think people will have restitution figures in mind. This could cost the state millions in dollars and, as you point out, could be the next step toward abolition.

    There is a current (like, I heard about it this morning) case–and please correct me if I’m remembering incorrectly–where an exonerated man is suing in civil court against the corruption in the legal system that caused him to be incarcerated in the first place. I will come back and amend my post if I can find all the information. I can’t remember if this man was on death row or not.

    If Hank is found innocent, looking at his court-appointed lawyer’s conflict of interest alone, I’d say he has a chance of proving corruption at least at the county level. Could mean some serious money awarded.