The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to block the execution of Rick Rhoades, a Texas inmate who was sentenced to death for the 1991 stabbing death of two brothers during a robbery. There were no public dissents from the court’s one-sentence order. Shortly after the justices turned down Rhoades’ appeal, he was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas.
Rhoades’ appeal arose from his efforts to obtain information from the state to support his claim that prosecutors at his 1992 trial violated the Constitution by dismissing potential jurors based on their race. After the Texas courts ruled that they lacked the power to decide Rhoades’ request for information, Rhoades went to federal court, where he argued that the state courts’ rulings violated his constitutional right to due process. But a federal district court concluded that Rhoades’ complaint was barred by a doctrine that prohibits the lower federal courts from reviewing cases that are basically appeals from state court judgments, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld that ruling.
Rhoades then came to the Supreme Court on Monday, asking the justices to put his execution on hold to give him time to file a petition for review of the 5th Circuit’s decision. Shortly after 6 p.m. EDT, the justices turned that request down, clearing the way for Rhoades’ execution by lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.