Panetti V. Quarterman: Mental Illness, the Death Penalty, and Human Dignity

28 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2011

See all articles by Richard J. Bonnie

Richard J. Bonnie

University of Virginia - School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2007

Abstract

My assignment is to comment on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Panetti v. Quarterman, holding that a delusional mentally ill prisoner who is aware that the State intends to execute him based on his conviction for a capital crime is not, based on that finding alone, competent for execution under the Eighth Amendment. In so doing, the Court rejected the contrary position taken by the Fifth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings. Does this obscure ruling carry any freight? It has all the earmarks of a one-off end-of-term decision with little significance for anyone other than a few very ill condemned prisoners: it deals with an issue that arises rarely, is doctrinally narrow, and has little connection with other domains of criminal or constitutional jurisprudence.

Suggested Citation

Bonnie, Richard J., Panetti V. Quarterman: Mental Illness, the Death Penalty, and Human Dignity (October 1, 2007). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 5, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1759473 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1759473

Richard J. Bonnie (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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