STATEMENT OF LAUREL BELLOWS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, RE: EXECUTION OF JOHN FERGUSON

American Bar Association

Communications and Media Relations Division

http://www.abanow.org

Release: Immediate

STATEMENT OF LAUREL BELLOWS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, RE: EXECUTION OF JOHN FERGUSON

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 23, 2012 – The American Bar Association is alarmed that Florida is poised to execute John Ferguson, a man diagnosed as severely mentally ill for more than 40 years, before the constitutionality of his execution is fully evaluated.  Although a district court evidentiary hearing regarding Ferguson’s competency is scheduled for Friday, that could be too late: His execution could occur as soon as today.

A federal trial judge had stayed Ferguson’s execution and ordered the hearing to afford “full, reflective consideration” of Ferguson’s constitutional claims; however, that stay has now been lifted by the court of appeals.  In the interest of justice, it is imperative that Ferguson’s execution be again stayed until there is an opportunity for the federal courts to fully review his insanity claims on the merits and thus ensure that his execution will be constitutional.  To do otherwise would be to risk a terrible miscarriage of justice — one that can never be undone.  

(Media contact: Rob Boisseau, 202-662-1093, Robert.Boisseau@americanbar.org

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