« Interesting day on tap for SCOTUS | Main | SCOTUS seems prepared (and perhaps eager) to knock down "honest services" fraud »

December 8, 2009

Still awaiting word Reports on Ohio's success with one-drug lethal injection protocol

Ohio was scheduled to go forward with its first execution using its new on-drug protocol this morning at 10am.  But as this AP article notes, one final appeal pushed the scheduled execution time to 11am.  But now the noon hour approaches, and I still await a report that the execution was completed.  And now I need to head off-line (and I think it would be tacky for me to complain about the delay). 

I suspect the AP article linked above will get updated, and I'll report on the reports from the execution chamber when I return on-line this afternoon.

UPDATE:  Here is a segment of this Columbus Dispatch report on the execution itself:

Ohio prisons director Terry Collins said there were "no problems whatsoever" with the new one-drug method. "The process worked as expected," he said.

John Parker, one of Biros' attorneys, said after witnessing the execution that he still has "major concerns" about the intravenous access issue. He said he counted nine times technicians tried before gaining acess for a single IV line in Biros' left arm....

Watching Biros' execution from a room about 10 feet away and separated by glass were Mary Jane Heiss, [the murder victim Tami] Engstrom's mother, and Tom and Debi Heiss, her brother and sister. Mary Jane Heiss was in a wheelchair and had a supply of oxygen. "It's my happy day that I was here to see this execution," she said.

Debi Heiss said Biros' death "went too smooth. I think he should have gone through some pain for what he did." Members of the Heiss family applauded briefly when the time of Biros' death was announced....

Biros was the fourth person to be executed in Ohio this year and the 33rd to die since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

December 8, 2009 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20120a72e2908970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Still awaiting word Reports on Ohio's success with one-drug lethal injection protocol:

Comments

Why states wait if there are pending appeals is beyond me . . . .

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 11:59:10 AM

Biros was executed: http://www.wytv.com/mostpopular/story/Biros-Execution-Delayed/RwHoXe5UUkGIRl9y4h66Nw.cspx

At that instant, the world became a better place.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 12:01:34 PM

Ohio sure has guts. Most states who have the death penalty on the books are afraid to carry it out.

Posted by: DaveP | Dec 8, 2009 12:11:15 PM

I read the NYT article on today's execution. I just love how they present DP opponents who ignore the legal hurdles they face, once more trying to put the onus on the state to prove the method is sound, rather than the opponents having to prove that it isn't.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 8, 2009 12:24:19 PM

Federalist,

Regarding your first post, in the State where I work we don't wait for the Supreme Court to rule. We have told the court that if you need more time to decide (especially considering that the inmate filed a day or two before the scheduled execution) then grant a temporary stay of execution.

Posted by: justice seeker | Dec 8, 2009 1:22:12 PM

"We have told the court that if you need more time to decide (especially considering that the inmate filed a day or two before the scheduled execution) then grant a temporary stay of execution."

That wouldn't be my approach--no stay equals execution.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 1:56:15 PM

The Death Penalty has just reached new heights of depravity, and the US Supreme Court new depths of dishonor.

Posted by: peter | Dec 8, 2009 2:12:02 PM

"The Death Penalty has just reached new heights of depravity, and the US Supreme Court new depths of dishonor."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 2:26:29 PM

Federalist,

Maybe I wasn't clear in what I was trying to say. In my state, executions are carried out at 6:00 p.m. On a few occasions, the SCOTUS clerk's office informally asks if we would postpone the execution until the court issues a decision. Although we did that on one occasion, we ultimately decided that if SCOTUS needed a few hours to make a ruling, then the court could order a temporary stay of execution. A temporary stay would not stop the execution from occurring, but would allow the court more time to issue a ruling. By the way, SCOTUS has never ordered a temporary stay of execution, they usually rule soon before 6:00 p.m. Hope this clears up any confusion from my earlier post.

Posted by: justice seeker | Dec 8, 2009 2:33:39 PM

Full disclosure: I'm part-and-parcel against the death penalty.

That being said, I have to say that the one-drug approach seems more humane to me as opposed to the three-drug method. At least as I understand it, the three-drug method essentially induces a heart attack in the condemned (which ain't pain free) whereas this method is essentially an overdose of a barbituate. I'm not a doctor, but it seems to me that the result would be that you just go to sleep and don't wake up (or, at least, something akin to that).

And while it is certainly a novel method, it's been used on animals for some time. As much as I agree with the goals of defense counsel, I really don't see how this can be qualified as "experimentation."

Posted by: Guy | Dec 8, 2009 3:09:51 PM

Thx justice seeker. I am of the view that because 99% of these last-minute filings could have happened much earlier, the criminal bears the risk of courts not acting in time.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 3:56:00 PM

"Watching Biros' execution from a room about 10 feet away and separated by glass were Mary Jane Heiss, [the murder victim Tami] Engstrom's mother, and Tom and Debi Heiss, her brother and sister. Mary Jane Heiss was in a wheelchair and had a supply of oxygen. "It's my happy day that I was here to see this execution," she said.

"Debi Heiss said Biros' death "went too smooth. I think he should have gone through some pain for what he did." Members of the Heiss family applauded briefly when the time of Biros' death was announced...."

So much for the idea that victims' families are raging against the DP because it doesn't give them "closure" or for any other reason.

There are few families opposed to the DP, sure. But the reaction we saw today is by far the more frequent.

For those who regard themselves as among The Enlightened and who look down their Really Sophisticated Noses at Mrs. Heiss, my suggestion is: Wait until you walk in her shoes before you accuse her of barbarism.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 8, 2009 4:07:19 PM

Um...Peter...why is this a new low of depravity and/or dishonor?

The method is, quite possibly, the most humane method that has ever been devised for executions.

For the Supreme Court to have halted Biros's execution in the face of no evidence that it would cause pain; where Biros's attorneys had previously argued that the exact same method would be constitutional; and where Biros never argued that the death penalty is per se unconstitutional would have been naked activism at best, and impermissible judicial advocacy for a litigant at worst.

And mind you...I'm saying this as an opponent of the death penalty. I just also happen to believe in the rule of law as well.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Dec 8, 2009 4:31:25 PM

Res ipsa - for all the reasons given succinctly and accurately by Deborah Denno:

"But serious concerns remain with Ohio’s execution procedure. First, IV access is still a problem and appeared to be a problem for Mr. Biros as well given that technicians tried nine times to get IV access to his left arm. Second, it is inevitable that Ohio’s controversial backup plan will be used at some point and the drugs and procedure for that back-up plan have never been investigated for any execution process.

The backup plan’s problems are vast. Evidence indicates, for example, that the drugs, hydromorphone and midazolam, will produce a slow, lingering death with the inmate in a state confusion, disorientation, and intense psychological anguish and torment. The nausea-evoking effect of hydromorphone may cause the prisoner to vomit, before or after drifting into unconsciousness.

Biros’ execution went forward because his execution date was set and he could not develop his case. Other inmates in Ohio will have more time and information to challenge Ohio’s procedures and they may get different results because of a fuller litigation strategy."

(with thamks to Steve Hall at standdown typepad com)

Posted by: peter | Dec 8, 2009 4:46:47 PM

The inmates attorneys have more than enough time to litigate any issues they want to raise. The execution dates are set well ahead in advance in Ohio and other states. For example, Cecil Johnson's execution in Tennessee was set several months prior by the Tenn Supreme Court. Yet, his attorney waited until the last minute which resulted in the late night boxing match between Stevens and Thomas.

Posted by: DaveP | Dec 8, 2009 4:53:14 PM

peter --

"Biros’ execution went forward because his execution date was set and he could not develop his case."

Correction: Biros’ execution went forward because he was properly convicted of a gruesome, horrifying murder.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 8, 2009 5:24:13 PM

Bill - bull. The new protocol was announced less than a month ago. The Supreme Court have no information about its efficacy, have not considered it in relation to Ohio's past problems of implementation, have not considered the issue of backup procedures, and did not even bother to give reasons for denying a stay. A total disgrace!

Posted by: peter | Dec 8, 2009 5:42:35 PM

Peter,

As has been brought up numerous times it is up to the inmate to develop that information. Even so there is disagreement among experts about what the effect of the two drug backup will be. The inmates have to come up with something more substantial than "this might be a problem so make the state prove it is a good method."

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 8, 2009 7:07:50 PM

what sick people the Heiss' are. I feel for their loss and pain. But how are they better that Biros? They applaud a murder? They are happy at another's death? He should have suffered more?

Is their family member alive now? Are the (or society) more safe because he is dead than they were 5 minutes prior to his execution. Waht harm did he pose being locked up for life?

What sicko actually roots for suffering, or feels better because of death, or applauds after watching a homicide?

I can (somewhat) understand support for the death penalty. Despite all empirical evidence, there are some who simply wish vindictive justice. okay.

But an execution or killing of any sort is not a moment of joy. I am against capital punishment because there is no research or evidence to support it. But were I for it, and if I believed this man should die for his crimes, I would hope that I would be better than these victims. They are sicker than the condemned and need help.

Posted by: bryan | Dec 8, 2009 9:32:24 PM

Bryan,
You have never experienced what Tami Engstrom's family did. Hopefully, you never will. So none of us should question their reaction to Biros being executed. As far as they are concerned, they got justice today 18 years later after an innocent woman got brutally murdered and dismembered. Biros got off easy compared to his victim. Of course, I respect your opinion.

Posted by: DaveP | Dec 8, 2009 9:43:57 PM

bryan --

"[W]hat sick people the Heiss' are."

They might still be sick with grief for their daughter. It happens.

"I feel for their loss and pain."

Possible, I suppose, but doubtful. I wonder if you've given their loss and pain so much as five minutes' real thought.

"But how are they better that Biros?"

Ummmmmm, they didn't murder and dismember anyone?

"They applaud a murder?"

An execution, which is carried out through court order after the judgment of a unanimous jury, is not murder. Murder is the UNLAWFUL taking of a human life. This branding of execution as "murder" is about the weariest slogan of a whole bunch of weary abolitionist slogans.

"They are happy at another's death?"

They're happy, I gather, because they finally got what they view as justice.

"He should have suffered more?"

This suffering stuff is a smokescreen. What you really want is abolition of the DP point-blank, no matter what the facts of the offense or the method of execution.

"Is their family member alive now?"

No, and she wouldn't be alive if Biros had received a prison sentence either. So what's your point?

"Are they (or society) more safe because he is dead than they were 5 minutes prior to his execution."

Yes. More than 100 inmates and staff have been killed by prisoners serving life sentences. That is not counting persons murdered by life sentence prisoners who escaped.

"Waht harm did he pose being locked up for life?"

See above.

"I am against capital punishment because there is no research or evidence to support it."

At least ten recent studies have shown that the death penalty has a significant deterrent effect.

"[A]n execution or killing of any sort is not a moment of joy."

After a post of relentless error, you finally got one right.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 8, 2009 11:22:51 PM

Bill-

Do you have any links to these recent studies? I've always thought it was such a difficult thing to quantify, so I would be interested to read about the results and methodology. Thanks.

Posted by: Shawn | Dec 9, 2009 2:56:31 PM

Shawn --

This 2007 CBS news piece should help out:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/11/national/main2911428.shtml

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 9, 2009 6:01:20 PM

Shawn --

This listing on Kent Scheidegger' CJLF site, is more detailed and may be of more help to you:

http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 9, 2009 6:09:50 PM

Dave P:
Biros's suit was not a strategically filed last-minute suit. In fact, his lawsuit PREdated the setting of his execution date. Moreover, the state tacitly agreed to the stay of execution entered by the district court, then turned around and appealed that stay at the last minute...read the district court's opinion on the motion for TRO. So in this situation, it was the state's shenanegins that created the rushed, last-minute litigation, not through any stragtegery on Biros's part. Yes, his attorneys could have developed the claims; that was the reason for the stay. The Sixth Circuit (or at least a majority of the en banc court) wanted Biros dead anyway, so he's dead without having the chance to litigate the claims.

Posted by: DAB reader | Dec 9, 2009 6:47:33 PM

By the way, I also note that no less than Judge Griffen, no pantywaist liberal, he, dissented from the order denying review of Biros's TRO motion en banc. He flatly said that he was troubled by the evidence about the "backup" method that Ohio will employ, and that Biros (and, presumably, the other plaintiffs) should be able to develop that issue in the district court.

Posted by: DAB reader | Dec 9, 2009 6:50:00 PM

DAB reader --

Permit me to ask whether you would have opposed Biros' or anyone else's execution even if the state proved conclusively that there was no realistic chance of gratuitous pain.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 9, 2009 10:46:26 PM

I am opposed to murder - period - which includes state sanctioned executions for the following reasons: http://drlindashelton.wordpress.com/2008/12/25/a-holiday-wish-your-questions-if-answered-honestly-would-eliminate-the-death-penalty/

Posted by: Dr Linda Shelton | Dec 12, 2009 1:38:40 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB