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The Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana where Lisa Montgomery was scheduled to be executed. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge has delayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, ruling that the Department of Justice didn't follow the proper timeline under a previous court order, AP reports.

Why it matters: Under the order, Bureau of Prisons cannot reschedule Montgomery’s execution until at least Jan. 1, potentially setting up an execution date after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

  • Justice Department guidelines requires that a death-row inmate be notified at least 20 days before his or her execution. But when the rescheduled date is fewer than 20 days, the inmate must be notified "as soon as possible."

Context: Montgomery was convicted of the 20o4 killing of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight-months pregnant at the time. After strangling Stinnett, Montgomery cut her baby out of her stomach and kidnapped the baby girl, who survived.

  • The Bureau of Prisons scheduled Montgomery’s execution date for Dec. 8, but U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss delayed the execution after Montgomery’s attorneys contracted coronavirus and prevented the agency from rescheduling the execution before the end of the year.
  • Bureau of Prisons rescheduled Montgomery’s execution for Jan. 12, but Moss ruled Wednesday that the agency could not reschedule the date while a stay was in place.
  • Montgomery's lawyers have argued Montgomery suffers from serious mental illnesses.

What he's saying: “The Court, accordingly, concludes that the Director’s order setting a new execution date while the Court’s stay was in effect was ‘not in accordance with law,’” Moss wrote, per AP.

The big picture: Federal executions had been stalled for 16 years, until the Trump administration resumed federal capital punishment in July.

  • TJ Ducklo, press secretary for the Biden-Harris campaign, previously told Axios that the president-Elect "opposes the death penalty, now and in the future, and as president will work to end its use."
  • However, Biden's team has not said if executions would be paused immediately once he takes office or how he would handle executions scheduled by the Trump administration.
  • If Montgomery is executed, it will be the first federal execution of a woman in more than 65 years, per The New York Times.

Go deeper: Trump's last word on executions

Go deeper

Updated Jan 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Lisa Montgomery first female inmate to be executed in U.S. in nearly 70 years

Demonstrators protest federal executions of death row inmates, in front of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in December. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Lisa Montgomery became on Wednesday the first female inmate to be executed since 1953, per AP.

The big picture: The 52-year-old Kansas woman was declared dead at 1:31am after having a lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, following a Supreme Court ruling late Tuesday.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

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