Convicted murderer Mark Christeson got the rarest of reprieves: a Supreme Court stay blocking his execution (for now). With an execution set for midnight (Wednesday morning), he was spared with just a few hours to go over the dissent of Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.
Why the reprieve? The order didn't elaborate on the reason for the stay, but we covered his case yesterday on our Eighth Circuit blog: Christeson never received federal habeas review because his court-appointed counsel didn't even meet with him until after the deadline, then filed a late petition, and then spent the next seven years avoiding their own malpractice by continuing to represent him, pressing frivolous timeliness arguments on appeal.
The dubious duo still represent him, in fact -- though outside counsel, as well as a group of former judges, all submitted briefs to the Supreme Court asking for a stay while the issues of a denied substitution of counsel, the conflict of interest with his current counsel, and his denied habeas review are all sorted out.