WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — The state of Ohio is asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that a death row inmate must be taken to the hospital for brain scans.
Lawyers for Raymond Twyford say Twyford attempted suicide when he was 13 and it left him with bullet fragments in his brain. They want to know if the fragments impact Twyford’s jurisdiction, something they say was never investigated during the original trial.
Twyford was convicted of murder in 1993, and lower courts ruled Ohio should take him to the hospital for neurological testing.
During Tuesday’s oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers said lower court rulings violate state rights and put the public at risk .
Flowers argued: “The wound we suffer is sovereign interference in the safe operation of our prisons. It cannot be remedied on appeal, plus the threat to public safety. Once we transported it, we took all that damage. There’s no way to stop that bell after the fact.
Lawyers for Raymond Tyword said Twyford was transported between the prison he was housed in and the prison-type medical facility where the brain scan would be performed, 16 times without incident. They also said the jury that convicted Twyford may not have had all the evidence.
Judge Clarence Thomas was the first to question Twyford’s attorney, David O’Neil.
Judge Thomas asked, “Do you know if you’re going to use what you find in the scan in a habeas proceeding?” »
O’Neil said: ‘The jury never heard any evidence regarding the effect of a point blank gunshot wound on Mr Twyford’s cognition and therefore on his guilt. They heard nothing about it because the lawyer never bothered to investigate.
George Washington law professor Paul Schiff Berman said the Supreme Court’s conservative makeup could be the most important factor in an eventual decision. He said: “This may be another case that is making it increasingly difficult for inmates to be able to challenge what they consider to be an unconstitutional conviction.”
The court is expected to rule on the case later this summer.
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