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The United States Law Week

Memory on Trial in High Court Death Row Dispute

Sept. 28, 2018, 11:07 AM

Vernon Madison sits on death row with no memory of the crime that landed him there.

After a series of strokes leading to vascular dementia, he has trouble reciting the alphabet and holding his urine. He asks when his long-dead mother is coming to visit.

That sets the stage for a battle over memory Oct. 2 at the U.S. Supreme Court—Madison’s faded one versus Alabama’s quest to avenge the memory of the officer he killed. The justices will hear arguments that day on whether the state can execute Madison despite his deteriorating mind.

“There are three votes that are not...

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