Because of an oddity in the Supreme Court's death penalty cases, it is perfectly constitutional under existing precedents to execute people with very serious mental illness except in limited circumstances.
The order will not itself prevent Mr. Wood from being executed using contaminated drugs or by an unqualified executioner. It will give his attorneys information that they need to challenge Arizona's execution procedures.
In striking down the state's death penalty system, Judge Cormac Carney relies on a line of Supreme Court precedents establishing that states cannot rely on an arbitrary process in order to determine which inmates will be executed.
Want daily updates on important issues? Subscribe to
While this doubtful conviction was ultimately thrown out, the events that led to Thursday's Florida supreme court decision demonstrate just how difficult it is to attack an erroneous conviction even when that conviction is fatally undermined by DNA evidence.