incompetency Panetti

Fifth Circuit Rules in Favor of Scott Panetti

On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit returned Scott Panetti’s case to the federal district court with orders to appoint counsel, authorize funds for investigative and expert assistance, and allow adequate time to prepare a habeas corpus petition raising the claim that Mr. Panetti is currently incompetent to be executed. As the opinion stated, “Delivery of the process due protects the prisoner and in doing so protects us all.” (p. 19)

Below is a statement from Mr. Panetti’s legal team, Greg Wiercioch of University of Wisconsin Law School and Kathryn Kase, who is in private practice at Kathryn M. Kase, Attorney at Law:

“We are grateful that the court found that Mr. Panetti’s nearly four decades of documented schizophrenia and severe mental illness provided a sufficient showing to obtain experts and resources to pursue the claim that he is currently incompetent for execution. And we are grateful to the Texas Defender Service for their support, which allowed us to obtain a stay and to litigate on behalf of Mr. Panetti in the Fifth Circuit. Mr. Panetti has not been evaluated by any mental health experts since 2007 and his severe mental illness has only worsened while in prison. We are confident that when the lower court is presented with all the evidence, it will find that Mr. Panetti, a schizophrenic man who insisted on representing himself at trial and attempted to subpoena the Pope, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus Christ, is not now competent for execution. Ultimately, commuting Mr. Panetti’s sentence to life in prison without parole would keep the public safe and affirm our shared beliefs in a humane and moral justice system.”

– Greg Wiercioch and Kathryn Kase, attorneys for Scott Panetti
July 11, 2017

The Fifth Circuit Opinion can be accessed here:


Links to coverage of the ruling: 

Reuters: “U.S. court orders evaluation for mentally ill Texas death row inmate”
Texas Tribune: “Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti to get further competency review” 
Previous posts about Scott Panetti are available here: