(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The U.S. Supreme Court today sided with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in overturning lower court decisions compelling the warden of Chillicothe Correctional Institution to take a death-row inmate to a Columbus hospital for a brain scan.
The ruling in Shoop v. Twyford will help Ohio and other states in their efforts to promote public safety and swiftly impose justice.
“We were confident that the Supreme Court would see Raymond Twyford’s request for what it was – a needless ‘field trip’ and a stall tactic,” AG Yost said. “The decision limits opportunities for prisoner escape and mayhem, and expedites the administration of justice.”
The case originated almost 30 years ago when Raymond Twyford brutally murdered a man in Jefferson County. Twyford confessed to the crime and was sentenced to death.
In the decades since, he has tried to avoid that sentence. He asked the federal court reviewing his state conviction to order that Warden Tim Shoop transport him to Ohio State University Medical Center for a brain scan, but he did not explain how the testing could help his case or how the scan results could legally be considered.
The court issued the transportation order anyway, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that decision.
Yost succeeded in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision, with the high court ruling in his favor today.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts explained that the lower courts erred in ordering Twyford’s transportation without first determining “that the evidence he hoped to find would be useful” to his case.
The Supreme Court’s ruling means that criminals challenging a state conviction in federal court will have to prove that they can use the evidence being sought before they are permitted to gather it.
“Doctors and nurses have hard jobs already,” Yost said. “Federal courts should not make it harder by giving violent criminals a trip to a public hospital based on a speculative hope that the trip might turn up useful evidence. I am grateful that the Supreme Court agreed.”
Joining the Attorney General on the briefs before the Supreme Court were Ohio Solicitor General Ben Flowers and Ohio Deputy Solicitor General Zachery Keller. Flowers presented oral argument on April 26.