Manuel Valle's Lawyers File Another Petition With the Florida Supreme Court

The lawyers for South Florida cop killer Manuel Valle have filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court over clemency proceedings for Valle and have asked the court to stay Valle's scheduled execution... again.

Valle, 61, has been given a date to die three times now -- currently scheduled for September 28, 2011, at 4 p.m -- since Gov. Rick Scott first signed a death warrant for Valle's lethal injection to take place on August 2.

According to the motion filed by Valle's lawyers, they claim Valle's "due process and equal protection" was improperly denied due to a law that prohibits his lawyers from representing him in nonriminal hearings.

The noncriminal hearing they want to represent him in is a federal claim regarding the constitutionality of Valle's death sentence since he was denied clemency proceedings by the state.

In the petition, Valle's lawyers argue that his eighth and 14th amendment rights are being violated since the law guarantees that the claim about the clemency hearings -- which they say is a "viable challenge" in federal court -- will not be heard.

A federal court in Atlanta already put a stay on the execution -- which was scheduled for September 6 -- to listen to a claim about a possible clemency hearing, and that was denied, although Valle's lawyers filed a petition on that ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before that, Valle was to be executed on August 2, but the Florida Supreme Court stayed his execution and remanded the case to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola, who oversaw a hearing on the use of the state's new lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital.

That one didn't work either, and in the Florida Supreme Court's unanimous out-of-calendar opinion, it agreed with the lower court's ruling, declaring the new drug constitutional for inmate executions in the state.

Naturally, the state's response rejects Valle's most recent claims, although the reply from Valle's lawyers maintains that the specific law in question "is unconstitutional because it is in direct conflict with federal statute."

Valle, convicted of killing a Coral Gables cop in 1978, has been locked up at the Florida State Prison in Raiford since May 16, 1978, and on death row for just over 30 years now since being sentenced to death on August 4, 1981.

The last execution in Florida was on February 16, 2010, for Martin Grossman, who was convicted in 1984 at age 19 of killing a state wildlife officer, and each of the three inmates executed by the state before Valle spent more than 23 years on death row, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

The arguments from both sides on Valle's current appeal with the Supreme Court can be found here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley