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VOL. 44 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 10, 2020

Inmate sues Tennessee high court seeking execution delay

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee inmate is suing the state Supreme Court in hopes of delaying his Aug. 4 execution.

In the federal lawsuit filed late last month, attorneys for Harold Nichols say Tennessee's high court has twice denied requests to reschedule his execution, despite delaying two other executions because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

His attorneys say the outbreak has rendered them unable to prepare a clemency application for the governor. They also say Nichols hasn't been able to sufficiently meet with friends, family, attorneys or his spiritual advisor.

The lawsuit also targets the state attorney general and corrections officials. It says the prison hasn't disclosed how it plans to carry out an execution amid COVID-19.

Last month, Tennessee's Supreme Court denied Nichols' request for a new execution date a second time.

Justices noted the state's arguments against rescheduling: Travel restrictions and limitations on in-court proceedings have been lifted; Nichols isn't preparing for imminent competency-to-be-executed proceedings, unlike the inmate whose October execution was rescheduled; and the governor can grant clemency if he deems COVID-19 a sufficient impediment.

Nichols, 59, was convicted of rape and first-degree felony murder in the 1988 death of Karen Pulley in Hamilton County.

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