U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Inmate’s Request for Review of State High Court’s Decision
HELENA – On June 18, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition from Montana death row inmate Ronald Allen Smith asking the high court to review a Montana Supreme Court decision.
Smith had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a December, 2000, postconviction decision from the Montana Supreme Court. In that decision, the Montana court denied Smith’s request to overturn a decision by a state district court, in which the district court said Smith’s most recent challenges to his death sentence were barred from review.
“We’re pleased the Supreme Court denied Smith’s petition,” Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath said, “and we hope the case will now proceed in an expeditious manner.”
The Supreme Court’s denial was the latest chapter in a case that dates back to 1982, when Smith kidnapped Harvey Mad Man, Jr., and Thomas Running Rabbit, Jr., and shot them at point-blank range. He was sentenced to death after pleading guilty to two counts of deliberate homicide and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.
Smith has been sentenced to death three times in the 18-plus years since his conviction by plea. In 1990, the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States vacated his original death sentence, but in 1992, the Flathead County District Court again sentenced Smith to death. The Montana Supreme Court reversed that sentence on appeal.
In 1995, Smith was once again sentenced to death by the Flathead County District Court and on appeal, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed that death sentence. In November, 1998, Smith filed a postconviction petition, raising Constitutional issues related to the second and third sentencings. That petition was dismissed, and Smith appealed the dismissal to the Montana Supreme Court. In December, 2000, the Montana Supreme Court rejected Smith’s challenges to the process used to impose the most recent sentence.
Smith still has other avenues of redress in the federal courts. He is one of six inmates on Montana’s death row.