We just learned that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution to Cleve Foster, who was scheduled to be put to death this evening in Huntsville, Texas for the 2002 rape and murder of Nyaneur Pal in Fort Worth.
From the CNN News Blog:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a stay of execution for Cleve Foster, who was set to die in Texas later in the evening for a 2002 murder.
It is the third time this year that Foster received a last-minute stay.
The Supreme Court’s decision gives Foster’s lawyers more time to file further appeals.
Foster is a Gulf War veteran convicted along with another man of the 2002 murder of Nyanuer “Mary” Pal, a Sudanese immigrant he met at a Fort Worth bar.
Here is more coverage of yesterday’s stay of execution (thanks to Steve Hall at StandDown):
The Washington Post notes that “The court’s brief order, similar to one issued last week in the case of Duane Buck, another Texas inmate facing execution, said the reprieve would remain in effect pending the outcome of Foster’s request for a review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari. If the writ is denied, the reprieve is lifted, clearing the way for a new execution date to be set.”
In January, just before the start of a six-hour window when Foster could be strapped to the death chamber gurney for injection, he won a reprieve so the justices could further review an appeal in his case. The court later denied a hearing, the reprieve was lifted and a new date was set. Then in April, the high court again halted his execution when lawyers sought a rehearing on arguments he was innocent and had poor legal help at his trial and in early stages of his appeal.
His lawyers returned to the court with similar arguments he was innocent and had previous deficient legal help, specifically asking the court to decide whether prisoners like Foster had a constitutional guarantee for a competent lawyer when he first raised claims in a state appeals court. State lawyers said the issues had been resolved by the courts, that the Supreme Court has ruled there’s no constitutional right to a competent state-provided lawyer for appeals, and the last-day appeal was just another attempt to delay Foster’s punishment.
Looming before the Supreme Court is consideration of a non-death penalty case out of Arizona that deals with appellate legal representation and [attorney Maurie] Levin speculated that could be related to the court’s actions in Foster’s case.