(January 1, 2021) Today, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit panel granted the federal government’s motion to vacate the district court’s ruling that the government had acted illegally in scheduling Lisa Montgomery’s execution for January 12. The court of appeals’ order has the effect of reinstating the January 12 execution date for Mrs. Montgomery, a person with brain damage and multiple mental illnesses that cause her to dissociate from reality. She endured horrific trauma throughout her life at the hands of her stepfather, who raped her repeatedly and passed her around to his friends, her mother who trafficked her to groups of adult men to be gang raped, and her first husband, who subjected her to rape, abuse, and degradation.
Despite the extensive evidence that Mrs. Montgomery’s tragic crime was the direct result of her mental illness and trauma, the government continues its efforts to execute her. After the district court entered a stay of execution until December 31 to allow her attorneys time to recover from COVID-19 and prepare her clemency petition, the government issued the January 12 execution date. The district court ruled that the government lacked authority under controlling law to schedule any execution date until that stay order expired. The three judge panel disagreed.
Below is a statement from Meaghan VerGow, an attorney for Mrs. Montgomery:
We will ask the en banc court to reconsider this ruling. The federal government must be required to follow the law in setting any execution date, as the district court correctly held. Lisa Montgomery should not be executed on January 12.
Given everything we know about Lisa Montgomery’s mental illness, her lifetime of horrific torture and trauma, and the many people in positions of authority who could have intervened to save her but never did, there can be no principled reason to carry out her execution. The government should stop its relentless efforts to end her life, and President Trump should commute her sentence to life without possibility of release.
- Meaghan VerGow, attorney for Lisa Montgomery
- January 1, 2021