SPENKELINK v. WAINWRIGHT - 442 U.S. 1301 (1979)


U.S. Supreme Court

SPENKELINK v. WAINWRIGHT , 442 U.S. 1301 (1979)

442 U.S. 1301

John A. SPENKELINK, Applicant,
v.
Louie L. WAINWRIGHT et al.
No. A-1016.

May 22, 1979.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST, Circuit Justice.

This application for stay has come to me by reason of the unavailability of Mr. Justice POWELL. On December 20, 1973, following a trial and jury verdict, applicant was sentenced to death pursuant to the Florida statute that we upheld in Proffitt v. Florida, 428 U.S. 242, 96 S. Ct. 2960 (1976), for a murder committed in February 1973. On applicant's appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed both the conviction and sentence, Spenkelink v. State, 313 So.2d 666 (1975), and this Court denied certiorari. 428 U.S. 911 (1976). Applicant next sought executive clemency from the Governor of Florida, but his request for that relief was denied on September 12, 1977, and at the same time the Governor signed a death warrant setting applicant's execution for 8:30 a. m. on September 19, 1977. The following day, applicant filed a motion

Page 442 U.S. 1301 , 1302

collateral relief in the Florida trial court that had convicted him; this motion, too, was denied, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed its denial, Spenkelink v. State, 350 So.2d 85 (1977), and we again denied certiorari. 434 U.S. 960 (1977).

One day after he filed his petition for collateral relief in state court, however, applicant filed a petition for federal habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, which transferred the case to the Northern District of Florida. That court stayed the execution and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for September 21, 1977. At that time a hearing was held, which lasted from the late morning into the evening and produced over 300 pages of testimony. On September 23, the District Court dismissed the petition and ordered that the stay of execution previously issued by it terminate at noon on September 30. But the District Court also granted applicant a certificate of probable cause to appeal, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit then stayed applicant's execution pending its decision of his appeal.

On August 21, 1978, a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Spenkelink v. Wainwright, 578 F.2d 582. In an opinion comprising 39 pages in the Federal Reporter, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dealt at length with all of applicant's claims, which had previously been rejected by the United States District Court and by the Supreme Court of Florida. It affirmed the judgment of the District Court, and we again denied certiorari on March 26, 1979, with Mr. Justice BRENNAN and Mr. Justice MARSHALL dissenting on the basis of their views set forth in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 227, 231, 2950, 2971, 2973d 859 (1976). 440 U.S. 976.

According to the application now before me, the Governor of Florida again denied executive clemency on Friday, May 18, 1979, and signed a death warrant authorizing the execution of [442 U.S. 1301 , 1303]




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