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June 4, 2008

Texas not yet able to get back in execution business

As detailed in this Houston Chronicle article, headlined "Killer's execution delayed; Texas lethal injection was to resume, but Harris County inmate gets new stay," Texas executions are still being stalled by lethal injection concerns. Here are the basics:

Condemned double-murderer Derrick Juan Sonnier received a reprieve about two hours before he was to walk into Texas' death house Tuesday, the second time he has escaped execution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution after the Texas Defender Service, a watchdog capital punishment group, filed two last-minute appeals in the 40-year-old man's case.

Sonnier was sentenced to die for the 1991 stabbing deaths of Melody Flowers, 27, and her 2-year-old son Patrick...

In its appeals, the Texas Defender Service argued that the state made changes May 30 to its lethal injection protocol that have not been reviewed by any court. Its second appeal argues that the lethal injection protocol violates Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, an issue raised in two other cases pending before the state court.

Attorney David Dow, of the defender service, said the Texas court's stay was an appropriate move given that it has not yet ruled on the lethal injection process. The prison system, he added, must also provide more details about the procedure it follows to carry out capital punishment.

Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said the system's protocol has not changed. Prison officials, she said, made changes to internal written procedures in light of the Supreme Court's ruling, but the procedure remains the same. Among the additions made, she said, the prison system spelled out the amount of training executioners receive. "We clarified in writing what we were already doing," Lyons said. "The protocol remains the same."

June 4, 2008 at 08:38 AM | Permalink


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At least Sharon Keller didn't close the Court of Criminal Appeals to prevent Mr. Sonnier's filings.

Posted by: bruce | Jun 4, 2008 11:32:13 AM

Looks like Texas is back in business.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 9, 2008 11:46:28 PM

Well written. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next law articles from you.

Posted by: Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys | Jun 10, 2008 8:05:56 AM

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