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Court puts death penalty case on hold

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an Indianapolis judge's decision on a death penalty case, putting a condemned convict's death penalty appeal on hold indefinitely because of his current mental state.

In the latest stage of a long-running federal appeal on Eric D. Holmes v. Mark E. Levenhagen, Nos. 04-3549 and 06-2905, the three-judge appellate panel reversed a decision from U.S. Judge Larry McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana. The case involves the man convicted of killing two of his managers at an Indianapolis Shoney's restaurant hours after his firing in 1989. A state judge sentenced him in 1993, and his federal appeals have been ongoing for nearly a decade. The 7th Circuit remanded the case to Judge McKinney to determine the competency issue, of which the appellate panel found his examination was inadequate.

In today's ruling, the 7th Circuit was again unpursuaded by Judge McKinney's examination of the competency issue as it relates to expert psychiatric reports received. In one instance, authoring U.S. Judge Richard Posner wrote about being "troubled" by the District judge's evaluation that seems to have given weight to one expert more than another. The accuracy of his decision that Holmes is competent for the proceedings is in question, Judge Posner wrote.

"The implication is profoundly unsatisfactory - that Holmes is to be consigned to habeas corpus limbo indefinitely - but we cannot come up with a satisfactory alternative," the appellate judge wrote.

Writing that it reluctantly reverses Judge McKinney's decision, the court reversed and remanded it to his court to put on hold until the state provides "substantial new evidence that Holmes' psychiatric illness has abated, or its symptoms are sufficiently controlled, to justify the resumption of the proceeding."

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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