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April 13, 2006

The latest rounds in the lethal injection scrums

The now seemingly endless litigation battles over lethal injection procedures have recently advanced in a number of settings:

  • In North Carolina, as detailed in this New York Times article, North Carolina official have responded to a federal judge's order concerning lethal injection procedures (background here) by reporting "that they had bought and intended to use a device to monitor the brain waves of the condemned inmate."  More details on this somewhat peculiar development can be found in additional stories here and here.

  • In California, as detailed in this AP story, the death row defendant who escape a February execution date because of concerns about California's lethal injection procedures "has filed another lawsuit claiming there must be public hearings before San Quentin State Prison could have changed its lethal injection protocol."  More details on this somewhat unsurprising development can be found in an additional story here.

  • In the Supreme Court, the argument in the Florida lethal injection case (Hill v. McDonough) is now just two weeks away, and all the other on-going action certainly raises the stakes and the spotlight the case will get.  But, as Orin Kerr effectively reminds us this recent post, Hill is only technically about the litigation process, though he points to this interesting states' amicus brief highlighting capital litigation realities.  (The parties' briefs in Hill can be found at this link from the ABA.)

And, for good measure and at an opportune time, Debby Denno has just posted this abstract on SSRN for a paper entitled "The Lethal Injection Quagmire: How Medical Participation and Procedures have Changed the Face of Executions."  Though the paper apparently is not yet available, the abstract states that the "article concludes that the more information that is gathered about lethal injection, the more constitutionally problematic the procedure appears to be."

For additional background on  these issues, the DPIC has this webpage discussing the lethal injection litigation (and lots of additional information and commentary can be found scrolling through this archive of my death penalty posts).

April 13, 2006 at 12:46 AM | Permalink


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