Levatino|Pace files Amicus Brief with Supreme Court
June 15, 2020. Today Steven Levatino and Andrew MacRae filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, supporting the First Amendment rights of Ruben Gutierrez, who has been sentenced to execution. This sentence is scheduled to be carried out tomorrow, June 16, 2020, at 6:00 pm.
Last April, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice issued execution procedures that reversed decades of prior practice and banned chaplains and ministers from the execution chamber.
The brief focuses on the violation of Mr. Gutierrez’s religious liberty because of Texas’ refusal to allow a chaplain or minister to accompany him into the death chamber while he is being executed. It is the hope of Levatino|Pace that Mr. Guitierrez is not forced to die alone and is given a chance to have spiritual counseling with him during his final moments on earth. We believe that the State of Texas, in carrying out the execution, should show mercy and dignity to Mr. Gutierrez by providing him the simple and appropriate accommodation of allowing a chaplain or minister to accompany him during his execution.
The lawyers for Levatino|Pace PLLC sympathize with the family of the victim, Escolastica Harrison, and do not seek to overlook her death and the suffering her family has endured since her death in 1998. Rather, they only seek an accommodation for Mr. Gutierrez that, until April of last year, was given to hundreds of other Texas death row inmates.