SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The State of South Dakota is scheduled to execute Charles Rhines at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. However, three cases in the Supreme Court of the United States may delay that.
Does the federal government have the authority to order South Dakota prison officials to allow Rhines to meet with mental health experts for the “purpose of preparing a clemency application.”
The United States District Court in South Dakota said they didn’t have jurisdiction. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit dismissed the appeal because, according to the court, the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Rhines’ petition for clemency last year.
A petition for a writ of habeas corpus to ask the Court to direct a federal district court to hear new evidence of some jurors’ alleged anti-gay bias.
This was a brand new case filed last week in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Appealing the South Dakota Supreme Court decision to not hear Rhines’ case. This is regarding a Minnehaha County judge’s decision last week. This case had to do with whether the drug being used Monday meets the standard of short-acting-barbiturate or ultra-short-acting-barbiturate. The judge decided this case on a legal principle called Res Judicata.
Basically, because another court had already looked at this issue in the past, it cannot be pursued further.
This was an appeal filed Monday in SCOTUS, after the state Supreme Court denied to hear the case.
Tim Bormann is chief of staff for South Dakota’s attorney general. He said the state is waiting to hear back from SCOTUS before moving forward with the execution.
“SCOTUS is aware of the imminent nature of the case and is working accordingly,” Bormann said.
The application is addressed to Justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative appointed by President Donald Trump. There are four things Gorsuch will be looking at:
- That there is a “reasonable probability” that four Justices will agree to review the merits of the case.
- That there is a “fair prospect” that a majority of the Court will conclude upon review that the decision from 8th Circuit of Appeals
- That irreparable harm will result from the denial of the stay
- In a close case, the justice may also do a balance test looking at the harms to the applicants, to the state and to the public at large.
Gorsuch could act alone, or bring it to the full court as well.
Justice Gorsuch was the lone justice who reviewed the 2018 appeal of Rodney Berget’s execution. That was denied, and Berget was put to death shortly after.
Here’s what could happen next:
- He may deny it without comment or explanation.
- If he denies it, Rhines’ legal team could bring it to the other justices until a majority of the court denies the application. Normally, however, if this happens they bring in the full court.
- Gorsuch could ask for a response from the state before reaching a final decision. He may grant a stay on the execution while he waits for the response.
- Gorsuch may grant the application for a stay and allow the court to review. If the court decides to review it would hand down a decision on the merits.
- If Gorsuch decides alone to grant the stay of the execution, the state could file a motion for the full court to vacate the stay. This scenario, according to the court, is extremely rare.
We will update this story as details become available.