By Saranac Hale Spencer
Special to the Legal
Hubert Michael, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl 20 years ago, has gotten a stay of execution from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
“Because the District Court has not granted a stay of execution, we hereby grant the appellant’s motion for stay of execution filed with this court,” Third Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel in a two-page order issued on the scheduled date of Michael’s execution. Judge Thomas Hardiman and Senior Judge Richard Nygaard were also on the panel.
The matter came to the Third Circuit through a certificate of appealability issued by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which had denied Michael’s bid to re-open his case.
“Once a certificate of appealability is granted, a court, ‘where necessary to prevent the case from becoming moot by the petitioner’s execution, should grant a stay of execution pending disposition of an appeal,’” Ambro said, quoting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1983 opinion in Barefoot v. Estelle.