Justice David Souter was confirmed last week, but unfortunately, he did not have the opportunity to hear one of the most fascinating cases of the decade.
This is true -- I did not make it up. A murderer on death row named Michael Owen Perry killed his mother, father, two cousins and a nephew and was sentenced to die in the electric chair. He happens to be a certified schizophrenic, and by law he cannot be executed if he is insane.
The prosecution took the case to the Supreme Court requesting permission to force the defendant to take anti-psychotic drugs so that he will be sane long enough to sit in the electric chair. The convicted murderer's lawyers are fighting this, maintaining that the state cannot give their client drugs to make him healthy just so it can kill him.
The Supreme Court is not the only place where people are taking sides on the case. At Duke Zeibert's restaurant in Washington many learned lawyers debated the appeal while their clocks were ticking away in the office.
Tenderfoot said, "The electric chair takes precedence over a person's mental state of health. The person should take his drugs like a man so that he can walk the last mile with a smile on his face and a shine on his shoes."
Grimsley, a great defense lawyer, raised his fork in anger. "The state has no right to force any person in this country to be sane if it's going to kill him. According to the television programs, Perry thinks he's God. Is there any politician in the state of Louisiana who wants to kill God?"
Blowman, a former prosecutor, refused to buy this.
"We only know that Perry says he's crazy. That's pretty weak evidence. I believe that we should kill him, and then do an autopsy to decide whether he was schizophrenic or not."
Grimsley asked, "Don't you think that would be a little late?"
Blowman retorted, "The state shouldn't worry about what it takes for someone to be capital-punished. A crime has been committed, and justice will be served if we do the only sensible thing -- and that is to shave his head and strap him into the chair. If he's nuts, he won't know what hit him, and if he isn't, he can fake it."
Ludlow, a practicing psychiatrist, spoke: "The prosecutors insist that if you force anti-psychotic drugs down a death row inmate's throat he will get better. That doesn't necessarily follow. My fear is that after medicating him, the state will certify that the defendant is sane, when in fact there has been no improvement at all."
Blowman blew. "Who is to say who is sane and who isn't? The man murdered people. It doesn't matter if he doesn't know what day it is. The rest of us do. So I say, get the priest and let the games begin."
A female CPA said, "I can't understand why a state would go to so much trouble to electrocute someone who is around the bend."
"The prosecutors have to do things like that during an election year."
Ludlow added, "If you ask me they should give the anti-psychotic drugs to the government for taking the case to the Supreme Court."
"Is it possible that they were angered because the murderer claims he is the Deity?"
"Maybe, but if the Supreme Court decides he is God, they will have a real hot potato on their hands."