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Ford v. Wainwright

Ruling On Insanity

Ford's lawyer tried to get the state of Florida to declare Ford insane. Following Florida state law, the governor appointed a panel of three psychiatrists, who met with Ford for about half an hour and then each filed their own reports. Although each doctor came up with a different diagnosis, all agreed that Ford was competent "to understand the nature and the effects of the death penalty and why it is to be imposed on him."

Ford's lawyer tried to submit other written materials to the governor, including the reports of Dr. Amin and Dr. Kaufman, but the governor would not accept the submission. On 30 April 1984, the governor signed a death warrant for Ford's execution.

Ford's lawyers managed to get their client's case up to the Supreme Court. There they found the sympathy they had sought. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that Florida's procedures had violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Five Supreme Court justices held that the execution of any insane person was cruel and unusual punishment and prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Ford v. Wainwright - Significance, Ruling On Insanity, Cruel And Unusual Punishment?, Deciding On Insanity, Implications Of The Forddecision