Madison v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections, No. 16-12279 (11th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death, suffered strokes in recent years resulting in significant cognitive and physical decline. Petitioner sought habeas relief, arguing that he was mentally incompetent to be executed under Ford v. Wainwright and Panetti v. Quarterman. The Alabama trial court decided that petitioner was competent to be executed. The court agreed with petitioner that the trial court's decision relied on an unreasonable determination of the facts and involved an unreasonable application of Panetti. The court explained that Panetti required courts to look at whether the prisoner was able to rationally understand the connection between the crime he committed and the punishment he was to receive. In this case, one of the experts testified that due to a mental disorder, petitioner was not able to make this connection, and another expert never addressed this question at all. The court concluded that this record was therefore wholly insufficient to support the trial court's decision. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of habeas relief.