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Federal appeals court rules Arizona inmate can waive death penalty challenge

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] en banc Thursday that Robert Comer, an inmate on death row, "is competent to waive further proceedings...[and] has chosen to do so voluntarily," paving the way for Comer's desire to allow his execution in Arizona to proceed. Comber, who was convicted in 1988 of one count of first-degree murder, three counts of armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of sexual abuse and three counts of sexual assault, had sought to dismiss his habeas counsel, who had "[argued] instead that Comer's decision to waive further proceedings is involuntary and constitutionally invalid due to harsh prison conditions."

Last year, a three-judge panel of the court remanded Comer's case to the district court to determine whether Comer was competent to waive further proceedings and whether that waiver was voluntary. The Arizona Supreme Court [official website] will need to formally order Comer's execution before it can proceed. Reuters has more.

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