Earlier this week, attorneys from the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, arguing on behalf of Montgomery’s attorneys, Amy Harwell and Kelley Henry, asked Judge Randolph Moss to delay the December 8 execution until after the attorneys recover.
On Thursday, Judge Moss delayed Montgomery’s execution until December 31, noting that if the attorneys have not recovered from the coronavirus by December 24, they have to request additional and experienced counsel to assist, according to court documents.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.
Henry and Harwell said in the lawsuit filed in DC District Court that because they were caught off guard when Attorney General William Barr announced Montgomery’s execution date, they were rushed to start her application for clemency. The attorneys also filed a request for President Trump to commute her death sentence to life in prison.
“Defendant Barr deliberately scheduled Mrs. Montgomery’s execution during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, without affording her lawyers the same degree of notice afforded to other death-sentenced prisoners,” according to the lawsuit.
As of Monday, the attorneys were described by Dr. Mark J. Davis in an affidavit filed Sunday as “functionally incapacitated from performance of any professional work obligations.”
“I can state with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the journey to assist their client, as well as visiting and providing services to their client, during the height of the SARS CoV2 pandemic likely contributed to their present, severe illness,” Davis wrote.
“The district court’s ruling gives Lisa Montgomery a meaningful opportunity to prepare and present a clemency application after her attorneys recover from COVID,” Babcock wrote in a statement. “Mrs. Montgomery’s case presents compelling grounds for clemency, including her history as a victim of gang rape, incest, and child sex trafficking, as well as her severe mental illness.”
She was convicted in 2004 of strangling to death a Missouri woman who was 8 months pregnant, cutting the baby out and kidnapping it. The baby survived.