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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Court Holds PDs Lack Standing to Intervene in Death Case

From Kirby's Reports:  The State Division of Public Defender Services will appeal yesterday's decision by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford ruling that the Public Defenders lacked standing to intervene in the death penalty case of convicted serial killer Michael Ross. Gerard Smyth, the chief public defender, said that the public defenders will file a writ of error with the Connecticut Supreme Court and that Smyth hopes that Supreme Court will rule on the appeal before a December 28 hearing to determine if Ross is competent enough for the execution to proceed. Earlier this year, Ross fired his public defenders and hired a private attorney, T.R. Paulding Jr., to help him proceed with the execution. Ross has previously stated that he no longer wishes to challenge the execution and that the time for appeals has passed.

The Public Defenders are arguing that Ross is incompetent and attempting to commit state assisted suicide. "It is our belief that he is depressed and he doesn't want to fight anymore; that he's affected by the many, many years he's spent in isolation on death row and that he's happy to have the state put him to death," said Smyth, "Effectively it's suicide on his part."

According to the New Haven Register, "Smyth's office also sought to intervene on behalf of other clients on death row, arguing that Ross's execution could make it more acceptable for the state to proceed with other executions. They also said it could have a 'contagious' effect that would result in other death-row inmates ending their appeals."  [Mark Godsey]

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