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Federal Appeals Court Finds South Carolina Judge Ignored Uncontested Evidence of Mental Illness, Reverses Death Sentence
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has over­turned a South Carolina death-row prisoner’s death sen­tence after find­ing that the sen­tenc­ing judge in his case had ignored uncon­test­ed evi­dence of the defendant’s men­tal ill­ness and his­to­ry of severe child­hood abuse and neglect.

In a 2 – 1 rul­ing on July 26, 2022, a pan­el of the Fourth Circuit vacat­ed the death sen­tence imposed on Quincy Allen by Richland County Circuit Court Judge G. Thomas Cooper in March 2005 for the mur­ders of Dale Hall and Jedediah Harr. Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Roger Gregory, joined by Judge Pamela Harris, wrote: The sen­tencer in this case exclud­ed, ignored, or over­looked Allen’s clear and undis­put­ed mit­i­gat­ing evi­dence, there­by erect­ing a bar­ri­er to giv­ing this evi­dence mean­ing­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and effect and evis­cer­at­ing the well-estab­lished require­ments of due process in decid­ing who shall live and who shall die.” In so doing, they wrote, Judge Cooper violate[d] the Eighth Amendment’s guar­an­tee against the arbi­trary impo­si­tion of the death penalty.”

Judge Allison Jones Rushing, whose nom­i­na­tion to the Court by Donald Trump was con­firmed by the Senate in 2019, dissented.

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