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January 21, 2014

Notable early legislative responses to Ohio's recent lethal injection struggles

Ohio GAAs repotted in this new local article, headlined "Legislative Democrats push anti-death penalty bills following controversial execution," at least a few member of the Ohio General Assembly have a few ideas about how the state should respond to its recent execution challenges. Here are the basics:

In the wake of Dennis McGuire's controversial execution last week, legislative Democrats are ramping up efforts to halt —€” or at least modify — the death penalty in Ohio.

State Sen. Edna Brown, a Toledo Democrat, called for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and announced she would introduce legislation to abolish its practice in the state. Brown sponsored a similar bill in 2011.

In addition, Democratic state Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown said in a release that he's introducing a bill that would require the governor and the state'€™s prisons chief to be personally present during all future executions.

Both bills come after McGuire, convicted of raping, choking and stabbing a 22-year-old woman in 1989, was the first person in the United States to be put to death using a new and untried lethal-injection cocktail involving midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative. McGuire made several loud snorting sounds during his execution last Thursday, which took more than 15 minutes and was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed using capital punishment in 1999....

In addition, an already-introduced House bill to abolish the death penalty will come before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. House Bill 385 would substitute capital punishment with life imprisonment, with parole options after 20 or 30 years for some of those who plead guilty to or are convicted of aggravated murder.

Cleveland-area Democratic Reps. Dan Ramos of Lorain and Nickie Antonio of Lakewood introduced the legislation last month. Ramos and Antonio have cited reasons such as DNA evidence testing and racial disparities in sentencing as reasons to abolish capital punishment.

All three Democratic bills face an uphill climb in the Ohio General Assembly, as Republicans have significant majorities in both the House and Senate....

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will conduct a review of Ohio'€™s death penalty procedures, as is standard policy after every execution, according to department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. Smith said she wasn'€™t sure when that review would be completed, though she anticipated it would be done by March 19, when Gregory Lott of Cleveland is scheduled to become the next death row inmate to be executed.

Lott, convicted in 1987 of robbing and murdering an 82-year-old East Cleveland man, is also planning to file a federal lawsuit challenging the use of Ohio's new lethal-injection drugs, his attorney said last week.

As this article highlights, a number of political realities likely ensure Ohio is unlikely to abolish the death penalty anytime soon. But the national and international attention garnered by last week's Ohio execution surely means that those looking to repeal or curtail Ohio's capital punishment system will garner a lot more attention in the days and weeks ahead.

While I am not expecting too much of legal consequence to happen in Ohio on the legislative front, I expect there will be a lot of consequential developments in the weeks ahead emerging from the executive and judicial branches.  Governor john Kasich has shown a willingness to use his clemency powers to delay executions or commute death sentences for a number of reasons. And as this press release reveals, the ACLU of Ohio has already publicly urge the Governor to impose a moratorium on executions. Here is how the press release starts: "[On Sunday], the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich, asking him to use his executive authority to declare an immediate halt to executions in Ohio. The letter comes on the heels of the state’s fourth botched execution in less than ten years."

Om the judicial side, there is still on-going federal litigation over the constitutionality of Ohio's execution methods (as well as a new lawsuit threated by the McGuire family).  Moreover, in the wake of all the new troubles with the new lethal injection protocol, I cannot help but wonder if advocates for death row prisoners or others interested in abolition of the death penalty might now try to bring some state civil rights litigation in order to require the Ohio Supreme Court to consider and addresss how the state is now administering the punishment of death. 

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Comments

All America is by now well aware that only poor folk get executed across our country! For various demonic minds to now also encourage torture~executions to creep into our U.S. judicial system,makes one wonder who is on first !
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Posted by: Hillary's Agenda* | Jan 21, 2014 3:11:05 PM

Amazing that lawyers on benches know nothing, yet get to decide difficult technical questions. The question here is whether the condemned had any awareness. His movements could occur in deep coma. The state of Ohio could settle the question by utilizing measures of awareness used in anesthesia. If there is no awareness, there is no cruelty.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 21, 2014 7:48:52 PM

Four Dead in O hI O. Gonna get down to it. Soldiers are cutting us down. How can you run when ya know?

Forty years is a long time. Ohio has come a long way. Me, I recommend rifles for killing rather than needles and poison.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jan 21, 2014 9:30:44 PM

Issue was on Colbert Report. It has arrived. Semi-serious about that.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 21, 2014 9:39:06 PM

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