464 U.S. 1027 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

STEPHENS v. KEMP , 464 U.S. 1027 (1983)

464 U.S. 1027

Alpha Otis O'Daniel STEPHENS
Ralph KEMP, Superintendent, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center
No. A-455

Supreme Court of the United States

December 13, 1983

The application for stay

Page 464 U.S. 1027 , 1028

of execution of the sentence of death set for Wednesday, December 14, 1983, presented to Justice POWELL and by him referred to the Court, is granted pending decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Spencer v. Zant, 715 F.2d 1562 (1983), rehearing en banc granted or until further order of this Court.

Justice POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, Justice REHNQUIST, and Justice O'CONNOR join, dissenting.

This is another capital case in the now familiar process in which an application for a stay is filed here within the shadow of the date and time set for execution.

As summarized by the Court of Appeals the relevant facts are:

    "After escaping from county jail, petitioner was interrupted committing a burglary in Twiggs County by his victim whom he and an accomplice robbed, kidnapped, drove into Bleckley County and brutally killed; he was caught the next morning with the murder weapon in his possession. . . . [H]e confessed and pleaded guilty in Twiggs County to armed robbery, kidnapping with bodily injury, and the theft of a motor vehicle . . ."

A jury convicted petitioner of murder and sentenced him to death in early 1975. In the nearly nine years that since have transpired, Stephens has repetitively moved between state and federal courts in pursuing post- conviction remedies. His direct and collateral attacks have taken his case through the state court system three times and through the federal system twice. This Court has considered Stephens' case four times excluding his present proceedings. See ___ U.S. ___ (1983); 454 U.S. 1035 (1981); 439 U.S. 991 (1978); 429 U.S. 986 (1976).

The case before us today commenced with the filing of a federal habeas petition on November 15, 1983, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The State answered the petition and pleaded that Stephens' petition for a writ of habeas corpus was an abuse of the writ. On November 16, 1983, the District Court held a hearing on the abuse question and six days later, on November 21, 1983, the District Court denied relief. It filed a full opinion in which it concluded that " the claims raised by petitioner in his successive petition under 28 U.S.C . 2254 constitute an abuse of the writ under [464 U.S. 1027 , 1029]

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