Condemned inmate seeks hearing on competency | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Condemned inmate seeks hearing on competency

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 10:43 AM

Attorneys for Jack Greene asked in Jefferson Circuit Court yesterday for a hearing on their argument that he's severely mentally ill and his scheduled Nov. 9 execution should be stopped as a violation of the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Greene is scheduled to die for the 1992 slaying of Sidney Burnett, a retired preacher in Johnson County, who was beaten, stabbed, shot and mutilated.

From a news release on Greene's behalf:

“Mr. Greene is a severely mentally ill man—exactly the kind of person our laws prohibit from execution,” said Scott Braden, attorney for Jack Greene and Assistant Federal Defender of the Arkansas Federal Defender Office. “The U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that capitally-sentenced prisoners must rationally understand the meaning of their punishment. Mr. Greene’s delusional belief that his execution is the culmination of a conspiracy to injure and silence him prevents him from having the required comprehension. Decency requires that, at the very least, Arkansas must hold a hearing, with a neutral decision-maker, to examine Mr. Greene’s competency to be executed before any execution can lawfully take place.”

... As the brief explains, Mr. Greene suffers from a psychotic disorder and began showing signs of mental illness almost a decade before the crimes which led to his death sentence in 1992. Mr. Greene’s severe mental illness “produces delusions that cause Greene to believe, falsely, that he is being physically injured by a coalition of Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) employees and his own attorneys to prevent him from being extradited to North Carolina, where he believes he will receive adequate medical care. Greene’s illness manifests itself in extreme physical contortions and self-mutilation, which Greene considers necessary to alleviate pain from injuries such as the destruction of his central nervous system…. Greene’s illness has gotten worse with time, such that he cannot now rationally comprehend the purpose of his scheduled execution.”

Among other behaviors caused by his delusions, Mr. Greene frequently stuffs his ears and nose with paper, and believes that guards are trying to harm him by putting his food tray through the door forcefully. He often causes his nose to bleed, leaving his face covered in blood. As the brief states, even the “ADC medical staff have recognized Greene is delusional”.
Greene's attorneys say it's unconstitutional for Arkansas law to give discretion to the state Correction director, rather than a court, to decide a prisoner's competency.

Allowing the Director to make a competency determination also violates the separation of powers because it gives this power to a member of the executive branch whose duty is to carry out warrants of execution, rather than a judge.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson set Greene's execution following a request from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who said all criminal appeals had been exhausted.

UPDATE: A comment from Rutledge's office:

"Attorney General Rutledge is reviewing this latest lawsuit from Inmate Greene. The family of the victims deserve closure and the Attorney General will continue to work on their behalf to see that justice is done."

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