A federal judge has postponed the execution of the only woman on federal death row after two of her lawyers, who are Tennessee-based public defenders, tested positive for COVID-19.
Lisa Montgomery's execution has been postponed until at least December 31 under a command filed on Thursday by United States District Judge Randolph D. Moss in Washington, DC.
Execution of Only Woman on Federal Death Row
The order bars the federal Bureau of Prisons from initiating Lisa Montgomery's execution before the year-end. She was slated to be put to death on December 8 at the Terre Haute federal prison complex in Indiana.
Assistant federal public defenders, Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, had requested for an admonition to delay the execution until they could prepare a rigorous clemency appeal. Montgomery was slated to die by lethal injection on the 8th of December, the first female to be put to death by the United States government after over six decades, reported Tennessee Bar Association.
The public defenders, based in the Middle Tennessee District, requested the court to postpone the execution after they contracted the novel coronavirus amid last-ditch efforts to save the life of their client.
The court discovered that the symptoms of the attorneys have limited their capacity to file a clemency petition to President Donald Trump.
According to Moss, "The public's interest in seeing justice done lies not only in carrying out the sentence imposed years ago but also in the lawful process leading to possible execution," reported FOG Nation News.
Lawyers Henry and Harwell contracted COVID-19 following their visit to her Texas prison in October. In court papers, they stated each roundtrip visit from Nashville involved two flights, interaction with airline and hotel staff including with prison employees, and hotel stays.
Montgomery was arrested for strangulation of an eight-month pregnant woman from Missouri in 2007 and cutting the unborn child out of her womb to pass as her own.
Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prison on October 16 to schedule Montgomery's execution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harwell and Henry stated in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that they have had to travel twice from Tennessee to Texas to visit with their client held in Fort Worth's FMC Carswell in Texas.
According to the lawsuit, "Each round trip involved two plane flights, transit through two airports, hotel stays, and interaction with dozens of people including airline attendants, car rental employees, passengers, and prison guards," reported Independent.
Attorney Sandra Babcock remarked Montgomery's legal team has contended that Montgomery suffers from severe mental illnesses and cannot assist in filing her own clemency petition. This is partly due to all her clothes having been taken away and she was left merely with a sheet of paper and one crayon in her cell.