The US Supreme Court [official website] affirmed [order list, PDF] a stay of execution late Thursday night for Pennsylvania inmate Hubert Michael. The Supreme Court's decision affirms the 14-day stay of execution [Philadelphia Inquirer report] allowed by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] earlier on Thursday. The Third Circuit also requested that US District Judge John Jones III, a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania [official website], explain his decision to allow Michael further appeals pursuing his stay of execution after initially denying the petition. In Michael's challenge [text] to Jones' initial refusal, Michael outlined information he needed to pursue overturning his death penalty sentence:
In addition to setting forth reasons supporting his request for access to interviews with the professionals identified in his previous motion, this petition also requested that Applicant be granted access to information concerning him provided to the Board of Pardons by the common pleas court, the Department of Corrections, and others; that Applicant's counsel be permitted to interview current and former corrections officers in preparation for the clemency hearing; that the hearing be stayed until these requests were accommodated; and that Applicant's execution be stayed to ensure a fair and meaningful hearing.Michael was convicted for the 1993 kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Trista Eng.
US opinions on the death penalty [JURIST news archive] remain mixed. Earlier this week California voters rejected [JURIST report] Proposition 34, which would have repealed the practice in the state. In the wake of Connecticut's repeal of the death penalty [JURIST report] last April, Hotline contributor Ben Jones argued [JURIST op-ed] that "frustration with the practice had been growing for years." Connecticut became the seventeenth state to abolish the death penalty and the fifth to do so in the past five years. New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 34 states retain its use.