ILNews

SCOTUS denies Vanderburgh County case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The nation's highest court won't take a Vanderburgh County case decided last year by the Indiana Supreme Court, which by a split vote reinstated the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering his wife and two young children.

At its weekly private conference March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Paul M. McManus v. State of Indiana, No. 07-8435. After ruling in State of Indiana v. Paul M. McManus, No. 82S00-0503-PD-78, June 27, 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court denied a rehearing in September, and McManus appealed to SCOTUS in December 2007.

This denial means the state court's 3-2 decision stands, reversing a ruling by a lower court that McManus was mentally retarded and should be sentenced to life without parole.

McManus was convicted of the 2001 shooting murders of his wife and two children, and sentenced to death. He petitioned for post-conviction relief in 2005 after the state justices affirmed his convictions and sentence. His main argument rejected at the time was that he wasn't competent to stand trial. But in March 2006, Senior Judge William J. Brune ruled McManus was retarded and therefore couldn't be executed. The state appealed and won.

Justices Ted Boehm and Robert D. Rucker dissented from the majority of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Brent Dickson and Frank Sullivan.

Dissenting justices relied on a ruling in Pruitt v. State, 834 N.E.2d 90, 104 (Ind. 2005) that affirmed a finding the defendant wasn't mentally retarded despite "significant evidence suggesting he was."

But the majority disagreed.

"The post-conviction court's finding that McManus possesses significantly subaverage intellectual functioning was clearly erroneous," Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

"In sum, McManus does not satisfy the intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior prongs. As such, the rule of Atkins does not bar the death penalty."
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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.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  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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