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February 2, 2006

More lethal injection scrummages

I have been looking for an effective word to describe all the litigation over lethal injection since the Supreme Court granted cert in the Hill case from Florida (discussed here and here).  For now, I like scrummage, a variation on the rugby term scrum, which the Brits use to describe a "disordered or confused situation involving a number of people."   The term seems especially fitting given the Supreme Court's disparate decisions since it took Hill, the last of which gave Justice Alito his first taste of his new job (details here and here and also from Karl Keyes at Capital Defense Weekly).

Significantly, it looks like February will be a month of more lethal injection scrummages:

  • As detailed in this Baltimore Sun article, a federal district judge in Maryland late yesterday rejected a challenge to lethal injection brought by Vernon Lee Evans Jr., the death row blogger due to be executed next week.  Next stop, of course, is the Fourth Circuit and then SCOTUS gets another bite.

  • As detailed in this AP report, yesterday a federal district judge ordered "California to turn over limited medical records of the past three men it executed as part of a lawsuit by a condemned prisoner trying to bolster claims lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment."  This California case has a hearing scheduled next week in anticipation of a Feb. 21 execution date.

Notably, this recent AP article about the Florida lethal injection scrummage confirms that the Supreme Court has essentially created a de facto moratorium on executions in Florida:

[Governor Jeb] Bush, a death penalty supporter, said Wednesday that the most recent Supreme Court action makes it highly unlikely that he will sign any more death warrants until the cases are resolved.

In the AP article, Hofstra Prof. Eric Freeman clarifies that the Florida cases are only about a procedural issue and he "predicted it could be three years before the Supreme Court has a chance to rule on the constitutionality of lethal injection."  Three more years of these scrummages?  Oy vey.

February 2, 2006 at 07:13 AM | Permalink

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