Charles Walker (c. 1940 –
September 12, 1990) was convicted of the murders of
Kevin Paule, 21, and his fiancee Sharon Winker, 25,
of Mascoutah, Illinois.
Looking for beer money, Walker
robbed them of $40 and shot them, while the couple
fished in a St. Clair County, Illinois creek June
He was executed in Stateville
Prison in 1990 by the State of Illinois by lethal
injection at the age of 50. He became the first
person to be executed in Illinois since 1962.
The United States Supreme Court
had voided all state death penalty laws in 1972
stating they were haphazard and racially
discriminatory. It wasn't until June 27, 1977 that
the revised state death penalty law went into effect
allowing executions to continue in Illinois.
Illinois Executes Murderer of 2
The New York Times
September 12, 1990
A man who murdered a
young couple during a 1983 holdup that
netted him $40 for beer was put to death by
injection early today.
Mr. Walker was the 139th
person executed in the United States since
the High Court's 1976 ruling allowing states
to resume use of the death penalty. Illinois
was be the 16th state to resume executions
since that ruling. Oklahoma became the 15th
Mr. Walker, 50 years old,
had disassociated himself from appeals of
his case, saying he preferred death to
remaining imprisoned for the murders of a
southern Illinois couple, whom he tied to a
tree, shot and robbed.
''I'm guilty. I can
accept my punishment,'' he once said. ''I'm
sorry I done it, yeah, but it's done.''
Mr. Walker said a thirst
for alcohol and money led him to kill Kevin
Paule, 21, and Sharon Winker, 25. The couple,
engaged to be married, were shot while
fishing on June 18, 1983, near Mascoutah in
As the execution drew
near, Mr. Walker was visited by a brother
and friends at Stateville Prison, about 40
miles southwest of Chicago, said Nic Howell,
a prison spokesman. The prisoner read,
watched television and spent part of the day
with his hobby of crocheting, Mr. Howell
Fewer than eight hours
before the execution, the Supreme Court
refused to issue an injunction blocking it.
The vote was 6 to 1. The order of denial
noted that Justice Thurgood Marshall, who
opposes capital punishment in all
circumstances, would have granted the
injunction. One seat on the court is open,
and Justice Harry Blackmun took no part in
The High Court also
rejected an emergency appeal from two other
Illinois death row inmates, who sought a
delay until their case could be heard.
guilty. I can accept my punishment. I'm sorry I done it, yeah, but
— Charles Walker, executed in Illinois on Sept. 12, 1990
1990. Illinois. Charles
Walker. Lethal Injection.
Because of equipment failure and human error, Walker suffered
excruciating pain during his execution. According to Gary
Sutterfield, an engineer from the Missouri State Prison who was
retained by the State of Illinois to assist with Walker's execution,
a kink in the plastic tubing going into Walker's arm stopped the
deadly chemicals from reaching Walker. In addition, the intravenous
needle was inserted pointing at Walker's fingers instead of his
heart, prolonging the execution.
870 F.2d 1250
Nadine Schnurstein, Ronald Barrow, Gloria
Abbey-Lyles, and Patricia Vader, individually and
as next friends acting on behalf of
Charles Walker, Petitioners-Appellants,
Michael LANE, Director of the Illinois Department of
United States Court of Appeals,
Argued Dec. 28, 1988.
Decided March 15, 1989.
Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied April 19, 1989.
Before BAUER, Chief Judge, and
WOOD, Jr. and KANNE, Circuit Judges.
BAUER, Chief Judge.
Charles Walker, a death row
inmate at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois,
wants to get his execution by lethal injection over with.
Petitioner-appellants Miriam Wilson, Nadine Schnurstein, Ronald
Barrow, Gloria Abbey-Lyles, and Patricia Vader, however, want to
fight on his behalf to the finish. The question in this case is
whether they have standing to do so.
Walker pleaded guilty to two
counts of murder and one count of armed robbery in the Circuit
Court for St. Clair County, Illinois. Following a jury
sentencing hearing, the circuit court sentenced Walker to death
on the murder counts and to thirty years imprisonment on the
armed robbery count. On December 20, 1985, the Illinois Supreme
Court affirmed Walker's conviction and death sentence.
On December 27, 1985, Walker
moved to terminate further proceedings on his behalf, informing
his appointed counsel that he wanted to be executed. On February
6, 1986, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Walker's motion to
terminate further proceedings, and denied his counsel's petition
Walker's counsel next filed a
petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme
Court, in spite of the fact that Walker opposed the action and
refused to sign an affidavit in support of a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis. On December 1, 1986, the Supreme Court denied
the certiorari petition. Walker v. Illinois, 479 U.S. 995, 107
S.Ct. 598, 93 L.Ed.2d 598 (1986), reh'g denied, 479 U.S. 1047,
107 S.Ct. 913, 93 L.Ed.2d 862 (1987).
On February 19, 1987, the
Illinois Supreme Court, responding to a request of counsel,
remanded Walker's case to the Circuit Court for St. Clair County
to determine whether Walker "(1) is mentally competent to waive
further legal actions on his behalf; (2) has made a knowing and
intelligent waiver of any such further legal actions; and (3) is
fit to be executed." After a June 24, 1987 hearing, at which
court-appointed counsel represented Walker, the circuit court
ruled that Walker was mentally competent to waive further legal
efforts on his behalf and that he was fit to be executed.
On September 28, 1987, however,
the Illinois Supreme Court directed the circuit court to conduct
another hearing on Walker's mental condition because Walker's
appointed counsel at the June 24 hearing did not oppose the
state's position that Walker was competent and fit for execution.
On November 20, 1987, the circuit court held the second hearing,
after which it again found Walker to be both mentally competent
to waive further legal efforts on his behalf and fit for
On January 19, 1988, the
Illinois Supreme Court reviewed Walker's case and concluded "that
Charles Walker is mentally competent to waive further legal
actions on his behalf; has made a knowing and intelligent waiver
of any such further legal actions; and is fit to be executed."
Having made that determination, the Illinois high court set
Walker's execution date for May 10, 1988.
On March 15, 1988, the
appellants filed their next-friend habeas corpus petition
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2242, which provides that an "[a]pplication
for a writ of habeas corpus shall be in writing signed and
verified by the person for whose relief it is intended or by
someone acting in his behalf."
The petition, in which Walker
refused to join,
consists of two claims. First, appellants challenge in their
individual capacities the constitutionality of the Illinois
death penalty statute.
Second, appellants assert as next-friends of Walker (and not in
their individual capacities) that Walker's conditions of
confinement on death row violate several constitutional
provisions and that these conditions, coupled with the chronic
effects of Walker's alcoholism, have caused Walker involuntarily
to waive further legal efforts on his behalf.
Box 711 # 76374
Menard Ill 62259
On April 19, 1988, the
district court, after conducting an initial hearing on
appellants' petition, (1) dismissed appellants' constitutional
challenge to the Illinois death penalty statute for lack of
standing; and (2) stayed Walker's execution pending an
evidentiary hearing on the issue "whether Walker suffers from an
overborne will which substantially affects his capacity, thereby
rendering his decision to abandon further relief involuntary."
The district court then
appointed an expert to perform a psychiatric evaluation of
Walker. The court also appointed counsel to represent Walker and
granted the parties leave to hire their own experts to perform
The August 8, 1988 hearing on
the question whether Walker suffers from an overborne will was,
to a large extent, a battle of the experts. On one side,
appellants' expert, Dr. Curtis L. Barrett, testified that
Walker's chronic alcoholism had so impaired his judgment that,
but for the disease, Walker would be making every effort to save
his life. On the other side, the court-appointed expert, Dr.
Robert E. Becker, testified that Walker's decision making was
best explained by his antisocial personality, not chronic
alcoholism, and that Walker was mentally capable of voluntarily
waiving further review of his death sentence.
In the end, the district court
found Dr. Becker to be "the more credible expert" who offered "a
more reasonable explanation of Walker's actions." The court also
was influenced by its opportunity to examine Walker on the
stand. According to the court, Walker was "credible, lucid, and
rational" in explaining his decision to waive further review of
his guilty plea and death sentence.
Accordingly, the district
court found "that petitioners' original basis for their petition,
that the conditions of confinement have caused Walker's will to
be overborne, rendering his decision involuntary, is without
merit." The court concluded that "Walker's waiver of the right
to further review was made freely and rationally" and that "under
the totality of the circumstances, Walker's decision is the
product of both rational intellect and unconstrained will."
The court specifically found
that "Walker has the capacity to knowingly waive his right to
further review of his death sentence, and the same is done
voluntarily." As a result, the district court denied appellants
standing to pursue Walker's post-conviction remedies on his
behalf, 697 F.Supp. 1500.
Appellants claim that the
district court erred in denying them standing as individuals to
challenge the constitutionality of the Illinois death penalty
statute. They also argue that the court inappropriately used an
"overborne will" standard to determine that Walker had waived
voluntarily his constitutional right to review of his guilty
plea and sentence. Finally, appellants assert that the district
court's finding that Walker voluntarily waived his right to
pursue post-conviction remedies was against the manifest weight
of the evidence.
It is well-settled that a next-friend
may not file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of
a detainee if the detainee himself could file the petition.
Weber v. Garza, 570 F.2d 511, 513 (5th Cir.1978). A next-friend
applicant, among other things, must therefore explain why the
detainee did not sign and verify the petition. Id. at 513-14. If
the next-friend cannot do so, "the court is without jurisdiction
to consider the petition." Id. Thus, a successful attack on
Walker's competency is the requisite threshold for appellants'
next-friend standing. Rumbaugh v. McKaskle, 730 F.2d 291, 293
(5th Cir.1984); Lenhard v. Wolff, 443 U.S. 1306, 1308, 100 S.Ct.
3, 4, 61 L.Ed.2d 885 (1979) (Rehnquist, J., Opinion in Chambers).
In their original petition and
supplement thereto, appellants asserted next-friend standing by
claiming that the conditions of Walker's confinement on death
row "have impeded and violated Mr. Walker's ability to freely
and voluntarily exercise his constitutional rights, including
his right to pursue state post-conviction and federal habeas
corpus remedies." The district court examined this claim under
the Supreme Court's standard in Rees v. Peyton for determining
whether a convicted defendant is mentally competent to choose
not to pursue further appeals or collateral attacks on his
conviction or sentence. Under Rees, the court must ask whether [the
convicted defendant] has the capacity to appreciate his position
and make a rational choice with respect to continuing or
abandoning further litigation or on the other hand whether he is
suffering from a mental disease, disorder, or defect which may
substantially affect his capacity in the premises.
Rees, 384 U.S. 312, 314, 86
S.Ct. 1505, 1506, 16 L.Ed.2d 583 (1966).
Although Rees seems to apply
squarely to Walker, appellants complain that the district court,
by limiting the scope of its inquiry to whether Charles Walker
lacked the "capacity" to voluntarily waive his constitutional
right to post-conviction review of his guilty plea and death
sentence, failed to recognize that mental competency or capacity
are issues separate and distinct from the issue of voluntariness.
According to appellants, "[t]he district court's exceedingly
narrow standard fails to account for waiver decisions that are
involuntary because they are unduly influenced by improper
factors when the mental competency or capacity of the
individuals making those decisions is not otherwise in dispute."
Appellants, as they did in the
district court, base their claim on the Eighth Circuit's
decision in Smith v. Armontrout, 812 F.2d 1050 (8th Cir.1987),
in which that court divided the inquiry into a defendant's
decision to forego further review into two questions:
first, whether [the defendant]
had the capacity to appreciate his position and make a rational
decision, or was suffering from a mental disease, disorder, or
defect that substantially affected his capacity, see Rees v.
Peyton, 384 U.S. at 314 [86 S.Ct. at 1506], ... and second,
whether the conditions of his confinement rendered his decision
involuntary. See Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458 [58 S.Ct. 1019,
82 L.Ed. 1461] ... (1938).
812 F.2d at 1053 (emphasis
added). In the district court's view, however, both Johnson v.
Zerbst and Rees "confined the inquiry to Walker's competence or
capacity to terminate his pursuit of judicial remedies," not to
the specific causes for any alleged incapacity. And to the
extent the second prong of the Smith inquiry focused on the
defendant's capacity or competence to waive voluntarily further
legal review, the court reasoned that that question was subsumed
within the Rees standard. The district court, therefore, refused
to focus its voluntariness inquiry specifically on Walker's
conditions of confinement. The issue, ruled the court, was "whether
Walker's waiver was voluntary, or the result of a flawed mental
state due to an overborne will."
Appellants may quarrel with
the district court's approach, but we think the court did
exactly what appellants asked it to do. To begin with, to the
extent the district court emphasized the concept of an "overborne
will," we point out that in their Supplemental Memorandum in
Support of Next-Friend Habeas Corpus Petition, appellants, in
asserting that Walker's waiver decision is involuntary, stated:
"A person's conduct, while otherwise rational, is not voluntary
if it is based on a person's overborn will or impaired self-determination
that results from coercion or improper influence."
Thus, the district court's
conclusion that "[p]etitioners, in their pleadings, limit their
argument to the claim that Walker's decision to abandon his
rights ... demonstrates a flawed mental state resulting from an
'overborne will' " is quite understandable. Appellants from the
outset have asserted next-friend standing by claiming that the
conditions of Walker's confinement on death row "have impeded
and violated Mr. Walker's ability to freely and voluntarily
exercise his constitutional rights." They now want us to make an
elusive distinction between "ability," their term, and "competence"
or "capacity," the district court's terms.
Moreover, appellants' notion
that Walker's conditions of confinement rendered his decision
involuntary seems to fall within Dr. Barrett's and Dr. Becker's
stated concepts of "overborne will," both of which the district
court found properly to focus on "the voluntary nature of
For example, Dr. Becker
focused on whether there were "psychological internal factors in
[Walker] that were causing him to reach this decision or whether
there were external environmental effects of the
institutionalization that might be forcing him in some way to
reach this decision." Dr. Barrett described "overborne will" as
something "that might lead a person not to be able to direct his
own behavior in a logically consistent and self-serving way."
Presumably this would include adverse conditions of confinement.
Notably, neither expert found that any environmental factor
affected Walker's capacity to make a voluntary waiver.
Finally, and most notably,
Walker himself did not voice any serious concerns about the
conditions of his confinement to the district court. To the
contrary Walker testified that he still desires not to pursue
any further review of his sentence. He told the court that he
had made this decision, and he had told his family of it the
night before he was sentenced. He has not wavered in that
decision at any time since.
* * *
... He stated that he would not change his
opinion even if he were guaranteed an opportunity for pardon at
age 70 or 75. He understood the federal review options available
to him, and was aware of the efforts being made on his behalf by
the petitioners. He stated that it was not the lack of medical
care, the conditions of his confinement, or the counseling
available that were the determining factors in his decision....
Walker said that there was "no possibility, hope or dream" of
being a free man, and that there was no sense in being
imprisoned for 10-25 years and then dying, when the end result
would be the same--death.
It is not surprising, then,
that the district court found that "Walker's decision is, in
part, based on the quality of his life due to the fact, not
conditions, of confinement and the sheer lack of possibility of
freedom during his lifetime." (Emphasis added.) Certainly this
finding is not clearly erroneous. Nor do we think the district
court erred on the way to reaching this conclusion.
Which brings us to appellants'
second argument--that the district court erred in concluding
that they lacked standing as individuals to attack the
constitutionality of the Illinois death penalty statute. As the
Supreme Court has described it, "the question of standing is
whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the
merits of the dispute or of particular issues," an inquiry which
"involves both constitutional limitations on federal-court
jurisdiction and prudential limitations on its exercise." Warth
v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2204, 45 L.Ed.2d
343 (1975). One of those prudential limitations is that a
litigant generally must assert his or her own legal rights and
cannot rest a claim for relief on the legal rights or interests
of third parties. Id. at 499, 95 S.Ct. at 2205.
This limitation rests upon two
considerations. The first is that courts should not adjudicate
the rights of third persons not parties to the litigation
unnecessarily. Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 113, 96 S.Ct.
2868, 2873, 49 L.Ed.2d 826 (1976). As the Supreme Court has
explained, "it may be that in fact the holders of those rights
either do not wish to assert them, or will be able to enjoy them
regardless of whether the in-court litigant is successful or not."
Id. at 113-14, 96 S.Ct. at 2873-74 (emphasis added). The second
is that third parties themselves usually will be the best
proponents of their own rights. Id. at 114, 96 S.Ct. at 2874.
Both of these considerations,
like article III's requirement of actual injury fairly traceable
to the defendant's putatively illegal conduct and redressable by
judicial relief, "reflect[ ] a due regard for the autonomy of
those persons likely to be most directly affected by a judicial
The federal courts have
abjured appeals to their authority which would convert the
judicial process into 'no more than a vehicle for the
vindication of the value interests of concerned bystanders.' "
See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for
Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 473, 102
S.Ct. 752, 759, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982) (quoting United States v.
SCRAP, 412 U.S. 669, 687, 93 S.Ct. 2405, 2416, 37 L.Ed.2d 254
Of course, like all good
rules, the restriction against litigants asserting the legal
rights of third parties allows for exceptions when its
underlying justifications are absent. Under Supreme Court
teachings, two factual elements bear on this determination.
The first is the relationship
of the litigant to the person whose right he seeks to assert. If
the enjoyment of the right is inextricably bound up with the
activity the litigant wishes to pursue, the court at least can
be sure that its construction of the right is not unnecessary in
the sense that the right's enjoyment will be unaffected by the
outcome of the suit. Further, the relationship between the
litigant and the third party may be such that the former is
fully, or very nearly, as effective a proponent of the right as
Singleton, 428 U.S. at 115, 96
S.Ct. at 2874. Second, and most important for purposes of this
case, however, is the ability of the third party to assert his
own right. Even where the relationship is close, the reasons for
requiring persons to assert their own rights will generally
still apply. If there is some genuine obstacle to such assertion,
however, the third party's absence from court loses its tendency
to suggest that his right is not truly at stake, or truly
important to him, and the party who is in court becomes by
default the right's best available proponent.
Id. at 115-16, 96 S.Ct. at
2874-75 (emphasis added).
Appellants' assertion of "Mr.
Walker's right to challenge the validity of the Illinois death
penalty statute in federal court" falls squarely within the
prudential standing restriction against the assertion of third-party
legal rights or interests, so appellants understandably argue
that theirs is the exceptional case. They contend that, taken
together, their relationship with Walker and the nature of the
right they seek to assert on his behalf make it appropriate for
them to press his right to seek review of the Illinois statute.
Unfortunately, appellants can
point to no genuine obstacle preventing Walker from asserting
his own claims now that we have upheld the district court's
ruling that Walker waived voluntarily further legal efforts on
his behalf. Under Singleton, then, even if the relationship
between appellants and Walker is a close one, the reasons for
requiring Walker to assert his own rights still exist.
Appellants, therefore, also lack standing as individuals to
assert Walker's right to challenge the Illinois death penalty
For these reasons, the
district court's dismissal of appellants' petition is