Attorneys for KC Death Row Inmate Ask SCOTUS to Get Involved
November 18, 2014

(AP) – Attorneys for Missouri inmate Leon Taylor asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution on Tuesday, citing several concerns that led to the death sentence for the convicted killer.

Taylor, 56, is scheduled to die early Wednesday for killing gas station attendant Robert Newton in suburban Kansas City in 1994, in front of Newton’s 8-year-old stepdaughter. Taylor would be the ninth man put to death in Missouri this year and the 11th since November 2013.

The appeal notes that Taylor’s original jury deadlocked and a judge sentenced him to death. When that was thrown out, an all-white jury gave Taylor, who is black, the death sentence.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only a jury could impose a death sentence. Taylor’s lawyers contend that a Missouri Supreme Court ruling after the U.S. Supreme Court decision led the state to commute at least 10 other death sentences for inmates sentenced by a judge to life in prison – everyone except Taylor.

Attorney Elizabeth Carlyle said Taylor essentially has been penalized for successfully appealing his first conviction.

“It is difficult to imagine a more arbitrary denial of the benefit of a state court decision,” Carlyle wrote in the appeal to the Supreme Court

Brownback Says Kansas Will Continue to Defend Gay Marriage Ban Despite Court Loss
November 13, 2014

(AP) – Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t giving up on defending the state’s gay-marriage ban despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for same-sex marriages in his state.

The court on Wednesday denied the state’s request to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while Kansas fights the issue in court.

The Republican governor supports the ban and has said it is worth defending because voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution against gay marriage in 2005.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the governor issued a statement saying he took an oath to support the state constitution.

He added that he would review the decision and consult with state Attorney General Derek Schmidt on “how best we continue those efforts.”

Kansas Same Sex Couple Refused Marriage License Hours After SCOTUS Announcement
October 6, 2014

A same sex couple in Wichita were refused a marriage license Monday, hours after a surprise announcement from the US Supreme Court may clear the way for same sex marriages in Kansas, without notice, the High Court announced it would not take up the cases from Oklahoma and Utah trying to uphold those state’s bans against same sex marriage.
Kansas is in the same federal judicial circuit as those two states. Lower courts in the 10th Circuit have ruled those Oklahoma and Utah bans on same sex marriages unconstitutional
Since Kansas is in the same circuit, its constitutional ban against same sex marriages is affected by the Supreme court Decisions not to hear the cases from the same jurisdiction. The controlling Lowser courts have ruled those same sex bans unconstitutional so means other same sex marriage bans in the 10th circuit are unconstitutional.
Two other federal circuits are affected by the case, the 4th Circuit, which covers the mid-Atlantic states of the South . The other is the 7th Circuit of the Upper Midwest.
Missouri is not affected because is it part of the another judicial circuit, the 8th.
A Wichita couple, Kerry Wilks and donna DeTrani asked for a marriage license at the Sedgwick County Courthouse Monday afternoon.
Wilks says Sedgwick County judge James Fleetwood refused to issue one to them.
Wilks says the judge respectfully told them he was waiting for a “mandate” from the Court, according to Wilks.
The Kansas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union believes the decision in Washington is profound.
“I think the writing is on the wall,” says Doug Bonney of the ACLU, “ same sex marriage is here.”
Bonney says the ACLU is now looking for a same sex couple to act as plaintiffs for a test case.
In Missouri, Attorney General Chris Koster announced, in light of the Supreme Court move, the state would not appeal a same sex ruling last week from a Kansas City judge.
The judge ruled Missouri, which also bans same sex marriages within the state, must recognize legally married same sex couples who’s marriages were performed in states where they are legal.

Missouri Joins 29 Other States Asking for SCOTUS gay Marriage Opinion
September 5, 2014

(AP) – More than 30 states have filed briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts and 14 other states where same-sex marriage is legal filed a brief Thursday asking the justices to overturn other states’ bans on gay marriage.

Colorado and 16 other states that have banned same-sex marriage filed a separate brief asking the court to rule one way or the other to clear up a “morass” of lawsuits. Their brief doesn’t specifically ask the court to uphold their bans.

Massachusetts was joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Colorado was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

US Supreme Court Halts Missouri Execution
May 21, 2014

(AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday halted the execution of a Missouri inmate with a rare medical condition who challenged the state’s refusal to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug.

The justices said a lower federal court needs to take another look at the case of Russell Bucklew, whose execution would have been the nation’s first since last month’s botched execution in Oklahoma. Bucklew had been scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for the 1996 killing of a man during a violent crime spree, but Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito blocked the execution late Tuesday to give the full court time to consider the matter.

By law, Missouri has a 24-hour window to carry out a scheduled execution, and the ruling from the full Supreme Court Wednesday evening meant the state Supreme Court would have to set a new execution date if Missouri is to carry out the punishment.

Minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, people who were to have witnessed Bucklew’s execution on the state’s behalf were released. Eric Slusher, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, confirmed that no further litigation was expected Wednesday.

“This is something the attorney general’s office is going to have to respond to and take up in court. As a result, we will stand down tonight,” Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell told reporters.

Bucklew, 46, suffers from a rare congenital condition – cavernous hemangioma – that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, as well as tumors in his nose and throat. His attorneys say this and the secrecy surrounding the state’s lethal injection drug combine to make for an unacceptably high chance of something going wrong during his execution. He told The Associated Press last week that he was scared of what might happen during the process.