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Skinner v. Switzer

A guide to the U.S. Supreme Court case in which the defendant, Hank Skinner, was represented by UT Law's Capital Punishment Clinic.

Timeline

Adapted from the Attorney General of Texas website:

12/31/93 - Murders of Twila Busby, Randy Busby, and Elwin Caler.

03/18/95 - Tarrant County jury convicts Skinner of capital murder. 

03/23/95 - In accordance with the jury's answers in the punishment phase of the trial, trial court officially sentences Skinner to death.

05/21/97 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirms. 

04/20/98 - U.S. Supreme Court denies certiorari review.

12/02/98 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismisses Skinner's state-habeas corpus application as untimely.

02/05/99 - Skinner petitions for federal habeas corpus relief.

09/01/99 - Petitioner becomes eligible to return to state court because Texas law changes to allow previously untimely state applications to be considered on their merits. See Act of June 18, 1999, ch. 803, §§ 1 to 10, 1999 Tex. Gen. Laws 3431, (codified at Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 11.071 § 4A(f) (Vernon's Supp. 1999)).

08/01/00 - U.S. district court grants Skinner's cross-motion to abate so that Skinner can return to state court.

08/31/00 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grants Skinner's motion to establish a new filing date for his state habeas application. 

02/27/01 - Skinner files a state habeas application. 

10/09/01 - Skinner moves the trial court for post-conviction DNA testing. 

10/10/01 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismisses Skinner's habeas application, invoking the rule of habeas corpus abstention, on the basis that there was a pending federal petition, even though the federal court had stayed the case solely to allow petitioner's claims to be presented to the state courts.

12/11/01 - U.S. district court re-opens Skinner's federal habeas case. 

06/26/02 - Trial court denies Skinner's motion for DNA testing. 

12/02/02 - Skinner files an amended habeas petition. 

12/05/03 - Skinner asks federal district court for leave to conduct discovery, including having certain items tested for DNA. 

12/10/03 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirms the trial court's denial of DNA testing.

05/18/04 - The federal district court grants Skinner limited discovery.

08/15/05 - Skinner files a renewed motion for DNA testing in the federal district court.

10/04/05 - Federal district court denies Skinner's renewed motion for DNA testing.

09/29/06 - Federal magistrate judge issues his findings, report, and recommendation to deny habeas corpus relief.

02/22/07 - U.S. district judge overrules Skinner's objections, adopts the recommendation, denies habeas relief, and issues final judgment.

07/02/07 - Federal district court denies Skinner a certificate of appealability (COA).

07/30/07 - Skinner files a second motion in the trial court seeking DNA testing. 

05/18/08 - Fifth Circuit finds that two of Skinner's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are debatable and granted COA in part.

07/14/09 - Fifth Circuit affirms the district court's denial of habeas relief.

09/23/09 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirms the trial court's denial of DNA testing.

10/20/09 - The 31st Judicial District Court of Gray County orders Skinners’ execution for Wednesday, February 24, 2010.

11/23/09 - Skinner petitions the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari review of the Fifth Circuit court's decision affirming the denial of habeas corpus relief.

11/27/09 - Skinner files a civil rights complaint and asks for a preliminary injunction requiring the prosecution to release materials for DNA testing.

01/15/10 - Federal magistrate judge recommends that Skinner's complaint be dismissed for failing to state a claim.

01/20/10 - U.S. district judge overrules Skinner's objections, adopts the recommendation, and dismisses Skinner's 1983 complaint. 

01/28/10 - Fifth Circuit affirms the district court's ruling and issues mandate. 

02/01/10 - Skinner moves the federal district court to stay his February 24th execution pending appeal of his 1983 action. 

02/02/10 - A U.S. district judge determines the court lacks jurisdiction to grant a stay and dismisses Skinner's motion. 

02/02/10 - Skinner petitions the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for commutation of his sentence or a 90-day reprieve.

02/04/10 - Skinner asks Fifth Circuit for a stay of execution pending appeal of his 1983 action.

02/08/10 - Fifth Circuit denies Skinner’s motion for a stay.

02/10/10 - Skinner asks the trial court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to vacate the order setting his execution date and to recall the death warrant. Skinner argues that the death warrant was untimely issued and that state law precludes the trial court from setting a new execution date because Skinner has not completed state habeas review.

02/16/10 - Gray County trial court determines there was a question over whether the death warrant was timely issued. The judge vacates the order setting Skinner’s execution, withdraws and voids the death warrant, and orders that Skinner be executed on Wednesday, March 24, 2010.

02/19/10 - Skinner files notice of appeal in the trial court to seek review of the 2/16/10 order vacating the original execution date and re-setting Skinner for execution.

02/22/10 - Skinner moves Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to expedite its review of his appeal of the trial court’s 2/16/10 order or, alternatively, for leave to file a writ of mandamus and writ of prohibition.

02/24/10 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denies Skinner’s 2/10/10 motion to vacate the order setting an execution date and to recall the death warrant. 

03/01/10 - Skinner files a habeas application in the trial court and moves for leave to conduct investigation for 90 days which may lead to amending his application. 

03/03/10 - Skinner petitions for commutation of sentence or a 60-day reprieve from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. 

03/03/10 - Trial court finds that Skinner’s instant application for writ of habeas corpus is a subsequent application, and orders that it be sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for disposition. 

03/04/10 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismisses for want of jurisdiction Skinner’s 2/19 appeal of the trial court’s 2/16 order re-scheduling his execution, and denies Skinner leave to file a writ of mandamus or writ of prohibition.

03/04/10 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals receives Skinner's habeas application from the trial court. 

03/09/10 - Skinner moves the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to remand his habeas application to the convicting court for consideration or, alternatively, moves for a stay of execution pending resolution of whether his application is an initial or subsequent application.

03/17/10 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismisses Skinner's state habeas application as an abuse of the writ, denies his application for stay of execution, and denies his motion for leave to conduct further investigation.