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May 17, 2006

Uncertainty over status of Texas executions

This Houston Chronicle article, "Texas Fog over executions could clear today" highlights the continuing uncertainty in Texas over status of executions in light of the stay in one cases granted earlier this week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (basics here).  Here's the start:

A decision today from the state's highest criminal court could provide an indication of how Texas will handle death penalty appeals that question the constitutionality of lethal injection.  Earlier this week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals postponed the execution of Houston killer Derrick Sean O'Brien, whose attorneys cited the method in their appeal as an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual manner of death.

If the same court grants a stay to death row inmate Jermaine Herron, who is scheduled to be executed tonight, the decision makes clear that the court is awaiting direction on the issue from the U.S. Supreme Court, legal experts said....  "It's highly unusual for the Court of Criminal Appeals to take the action it did in [the O'Brien] case," said Rob Owen, a University of Texas adjunct law professor and death penalty expert. "Certainly, Texas continues to execute people on a regular basis, although many of them try to file last-minute appeals, and this is one of the few that has had some success."

May 17, 2006 at 07:16 AM | Permalink

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