Opinions Relating to Orders - 2018

Murphy v. Collier

Patrick H. Murphy, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003, was scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. on March 28. Murphy’s attorneys waited until March 26 before filing this suit in Federal District Court. The complaint they filed challenges a feature of the Texas execution protocol that has been in place and on the public record since 2012. The complaint claims that the Texas protocol violates the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat. 803, 42 U. S. C. §2000cc et seq., insofar as it permits only a prison chaplain and not any outside cleric to be present in the room where executions are carried out. Murphy is a Buddhist, and none of the more than 100 Texas prison chaplains is a Buddhist priest. In carefully reasoned opinions based squarely on precedents of this Court, both the District Court and the Court of Appeals rejected Murphy’s request for a stay of execution due to his dilatory litigation tactics, see 919 F. 3d 913, 916 (CA5 2019); 2019 WL 1369001, *1 (SD Tex., Mar. 26, 2019). Then, on the afternoon of March 28, only hours before his execution was scheduled to occur, Murphy asked this Court to block his execution. And despite his inexcusable delay in raising his claims, the Court granted Murphy’s request.