U.S. Eleventh Circuit - The FindLaw 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

March 2017 Archives

Death Row Inmate Ruled Incompetent

Vernon Madison, one of the longest-tenured tenants on Alabama's death row, has cheated death again.

Seven hours before his scheduled date with death last year, an appellate court stayed his execution. A new U.S. Supreme Court case gave him a chance to challenge the constitutionality of the ultimate sentence.

Then last week, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said he was incompetent to be executed because strokes have left him unable to understand why he was sentenced to die.

"Mr. Madison may have been told that he is being executed because of the murder he committed, but he doesn't remember his capital offence, and according to his perception of reality he never committed murder," the federal appeals court said.

A recent Florida Supreme Court case went a bit beyond the regular euphemisms about the birds and the bees into a straight up, in your face, hardcore examination of sexual intercourse.

The definition of sexual intercourse, that is. Examining a Florida law criminalizing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the court was forced to determine just what counted as "sexual intercourse." Was it limited to old-fashioned, Church-approved, when-a-man-loves-a-woman-very-much stuff, or could it be read to include some man-on-man action?

The Civil Rights Act's protections against discrimination 'on the basis of sex' do not protect gay and lesbian workers who face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Eleven Circuit ruled on Friday.

That wouldn't be a terribly noteworthy outcome, if this were still the 1970s, or even the early 2000s. During those periods of civil rights litigation, courts routinely refused to extend employment protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. But in recent years, the consensus has started to shift. The EEOC has interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect gay workers, for example, and the Eleventh itself has extended protections to transgender employees.

But those earlier cases still stand, the Eleventh ruled, and they still bind the court's interpretation of civil rights laws today.