Marvin Lee Wilson an inmate with an IQ in the low 60s, faces execution, despite it being illegal to execute a mentally retarded inmate. In Texas it's against the law for a death row inmate to file an appeal in state and federal court at the same time. His lawyer filed an appeal to federal court, at the last day it was in state court, missing a dead line. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans refused to hear Wilson's appeal because his attorney missed a filing deadline. Here is what the court said in its ruling by a three-judge panel:
"However harsh the result may be — particularly in a death penalty case involving a petitioner who has made a prima facie showing of mental retardation — Congress acted deliberately in enacting a strict limitations period." This is a disturbing ruling that perverts the legal system by elevating deadlines over justice, process over fairness. The Supreme Court has ruled that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutional. That should not be trumped by a procedural rule. Basically, Wilson's case became entangled in a catch-22 contained in the complicated legal process that governs the filing of death penalty appeals in state and federal court.
The bottom line is he faces execution, due to his lawyers errors. To read the whole story see: Texas Execution.
Public confidence in the Texas justice has been shaken with the recent revelations that the state apparently executed the wrong man in 1993. Clearly there was a rush to convict and execute San Antonio resident Ruben Cantu. Carrying out another wrongful execution further erodes trust in the system.