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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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

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  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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