Connecticut's State Supreme Court has once again upheld the right of serial killer Michael Ross to waive further appeals. The result, an almost certain execution scheduled for May 13.
But wait? A new habeas petition. This one by his sister, Donna Dunham. She doesn't think her brother has the capacity to consent to execution. So her lawyer, Diane Polan of New Haven, rushed to court to block the execution.
The petition will be tossed in far less time than it took to draft it. According to Ross' lawyer, T.R. Paulding, Ross and his sister don't even have a relationship any longer; Ross hasn't seen her in many years.
Attorney Polan is a friend and former partner, but the filing of this habeas petition is just plain dumb. She reports that Dunham approached many lawyers before finding one willing to take the petition. I think the reason for that is the claim she raises is wholly lacking in merit.
Also stewing in the wings is Antonio Ponvert, a feisty civil rights lawyer in Bridgeport, who represents Ross' father. Last week, he tried to get the Department of Public Health to investigate whether the lethal injection protocols used by the Department of Corrections violate state laws governing the practice of medicine. Ponvert was sent packing.
Almost a decade ago, I litigated the lethal injection procedure's constitutionality in the Daniel Webb case. Much to my surprise, there are no physicians involved in the killing. A DOC doc stands by to certify death, but the actual killing is done by annonymous bit players. Tawdry work. When I tried to shame the DOC's chief doctor by reminding him of the American Medical Association's stand against capital punishment, he proudly retorted that he wasn't a member of the AMA.
Finally, Ross's special counsel, the clueless Thomas Groark of little or no criminal experience, is studying the Supreme Court's decision and considering his options. After conceding his client's competence at argument in the Supreme Court and abandoning the pet theory of abolitionists as regards "death row syndrome," he might want to file a habeas petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel -- against himself. Just why was a greenhorn appointed special counsel?
The Ross case has become a farce.