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September 15, 2006

Up and down the Hill again

Clarence Hill won a big battle a few month ago: in early June (as detailed here and here and here), the Supreme Court held that he could proceed with his § 1983 claim alleging that Florida's lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional.  But now it appears he is about to lose the war to avoid his execution.

Today, the Eleventh Circuit in Hill v. McDonough, No. 06-14972 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2006) (available here), denied Clarence Hill's request for a stay of execution so he could effectively appeal the district court's decision last week to dismiss his  § 1983 claim.  As detailed in this newspaper article, it does not appear that Hill has even received an adjudication of his claim on the merits in the district court, and the Eleventh Circuit decision today never considers the substance of Hill's underlying Eighth Amendment claim.  Here is what it says instead:

In light of Hill's actions in this case, which can only be described as dilatory, we join our sister circuits in declining to allow further litigation of a § 1983 case filed essentially on the eve of execution.

It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court might intervene yet again, or if Florida will finally get to execute Mr. Hill for the crimes he committed two decades ago.

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September 15, 2006 at 08:39 PM | Permalink


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The Supreme Court vacated a stay in a substantially similar case, a method of execution claim brought at the eleventh hour with no good reason for not bringing it earlier, 14 years ago. Gomez v. U.S. District Court is still good law. The only surprise in the Eleventh Circuit opinion is that it doesn't cite Gomez.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Sep 16, 2006 10:56:05 PM

I suppose this means that executions in Florida have now resumed? This is unless I am mistaken and other death row inmates on Florida's death row can also bring forth lethal injection claims before their execution date is set.

I have a file which fully explains why the District Court denied Clarence Hill's lethal injection claim and reason for denying a stay. In it, it says, Hill should not have waited 4 days before his scheduled execution to challenge lethal injection. It also notes how inametes Michael Morales of California and Michael Taylor of Missouri brought forth their claims earlier, before an execution date was even set.

I suppose now that this means anyone on Florida's death row challenging lethal injection has a good chance at getting a stay if their claims are brought forth before an execution date is set.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 17, 2006 1:13:53 AM

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