By Jessica Weisman
ATLANTA, GA – Death penalty opponents hailed a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court keeping in place an injunction from a lower court that effectively bans state executions of warrant-eligible prisoners in the state of Georgia.
“Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) applauds The Supreme Court of Georgia for upholding the trial court’s injunction on executions of currently warrant-eligible prisoners in Georgia,” the group said in a press statement.
GFADP said the decision by the state’s Supreme Court comes from the Fulton County Superior Court, which decided the execution of 10 men on death row in Georgia would be halted. This is due to their warrant-eligibility status.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a judicial emergency order prompted capital defense attorneys to negotiate “a contract with the State in which all parties agreed the State would not seek execution warrants until certain conditions had been met and adequate notice had been provided.”
However, in April 2022 the state of Georgia moved to issue an execution warrant against a prisoner named Virgil Presnell with a notice of only two days, directly violating the agreement established previously in the state.
Presnell’s lawyers from the Federal Defender Program “sued the state for breach of contract,” and on May 16, Judge Shermela Williams “granted a preliminary injunction preventing the State from moving forward with any executions, including Mr. Presnell’s.”