- A federal judge said the Justice Department delayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on death row, Politico reported.
- US District Court Judge Randolph Moss said the DOJ acted unlawfully when it rescheduled the execution of Montgomery.
- Montgomery was initially set to be executed on December 8, but her execution was rescheduled to January 12 after her lawyers caught COVID-19.
- Moss vacated the January 12 date and said the DOJ couldn’t set a new date at this time.
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A federal judge said the Justice Department acted unlawfully when it rescheduled the execution of the only woman on death row, Politico reported.
Lisa Montgomery’s executed was initially scheduled to be executed this month, but the Bureau of Prisons rescheduled the date to January 12 after her attorneys got sick with COVID-19 and asked for a delay so they could file a clemency petition, the Associated Press reported.
US District Court Judge Randolph Moss said the Justice Department couldn’t execute Montgomery, 52, before the end of the year and then said they couldn’t order her execution while there was stay-in-place order amid the pandemic.
“The Court, accordingly, concludes that the Director’s order setting a new execution date while the Court’s stay was in effect was ‘not in accordance with law,'” Moss wrote.
Moss vacated the January 12 date, which means President Donald Trump’s administration may have to reschedule Montgomery’s execution until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Montgomery was convicted in 2004 of strangling a woman who was eight months pregnant to death, cutting the baby out of her, and kidnapping it, CNN reported.
Biden has been a staunch opponent to the death penalty. He has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to work to incentivize states to abolish theirs. The Trump administration has been criticized for scheduling executions during Trump’s lame-duck period.
Earlier this month, Brandon Bernard became the ninth execution carried out by the Federal Bureau of Prisons this year after a 17-year hiatus. Bernard also represented the first time an execution has been carried out during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years.
So far, the federal government under the Trump administration has executed 10 people in 2020, the most in a single year since 1896.
There are more executions still scheduled until Biden takes office, including Dustin John Higgs, whose execution is scheduled for January 15, just five days before Biden is sworn in. Higgs would be the last of five scheduled executions that were set in Trump’s lame-duck period.