Court Roundup

Ginsburg to present award named for her to philanthropist

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg usually is on the receiving end of awards, but she’ll be handing out one in her name this week to a prominent philanthropist.

Agnes Gund, who has given millions of dollars to support criminal justice reform and reduce mass incarceration in the United States, is the first recipient of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award.

The 86-year-old Ginsburg will present the award to Gund at a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Library of Congress. The award was established by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation.

Gund, former president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, sold the Roy Lichtenstein painting “Masterpiece” for $165 million in 2017 and created her Art for Justice Fund.

“I have worked most of my life to ensure that access to art should be a right, not a privilege, because it can open minds and inspire dreams,” Gund said, “With Art for Justice, that mission is intensified as we employ the arts to foster much-needed criminal justice reform.”

Last week, Ginsburg received the LBJ Foundation’s Liberty & Justice for All Award. On Friday, international legal groups will present her with the World Peace and Liberty Award. On Feb. 19, Diane von
Furstenberg’s foundation will give Ginsburg its lifetime achievement award.


Nevada mass killer wants U.S. Supreme Court to block execution

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada inmate who is fighting execution after being convicted of killing four people and wounding a fifth with a shotgun at a Las Vegas supermarket wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up his appeal.

Days after losing at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys for Zane Michael Floyd filed documents Wednesday saying they’ll ask the nation’s highest court to decide “substantial issues” about whether heavy alcohol use by Floyd’s mother before his birth resulted in personality disorders that prompted him to kill. The high court can choose not to take the case.

Floyd, 44, is an ex-Marine who said he joined the military and later committed the murders in 1999 because he always wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. He is housed at the state prison in Ely.

Brad Levenson, an assistant federal public defender handling Floyd’s appeal, and Nevada state Attorney General Aaron Ford declined to comment.

Jurors heard Floyd confess in 2001 and saw security video of him wearing camouflage clothing, stalking and shooting employees at an Albertson’s market near his home. He was arrested after an eight-minute standoff with police during which he pointed the shotgun at his head before surrendering.

Floyd also was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman hours before the supermarket attack, then letting her go after telling her he planned to kill the first 19 people he saw that morning.

Floyd’s request for a last-step appeal followed a decision Monday by a three-judge appeals court panel in San Francisco rejecting his bid for a new trial.

Court filings say psychiatrists, psychologists and a consultant diagnosed him with childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance abuse.

The appellate decision put Floyd atop the list for lethal injection in Nevada, where capital punishment is the law but the state has not carried out an execution since 2006.

Plans to execute twice-convicted murderer Scott Raymond Dozier became moot a year ago when he hung himself in his prison cell. Dozier had declared he wanted to die, but his execution was called off twice amid legal challenges of a three-drug combination the state planned to use and by drug companies suing to block use of their products in an execution.

The appeals court declined to decide if Nevada’s protocol for carrying out lethal injection is legal.

The judges did say they agreed with the Nevada Supreme Court that a trial prosecutor should not have referred to Floyd’s crime as “the worst massacre in the history of Las Vegas” at the time.

In 2017, Las Vegas saw the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, when a gunman opened fire from a high-rise casino hotel into an open-air music festival, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds. The shooter killed himself before police arrived, and authorities reported finding no clear motive for his rampage.