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August 11, 2014

Federal district judge extends Ohio's death penalty moratorium based on execution challenges to January 2015

As reported in this Reuters article, a "federal judge has added five months to a moratorium on executions in Ohio amid scrutiny of a double-drug cocktail the state wants to use." Here is more:

U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost, in a one-page ruling issued on Friday, said more time is required “in light of the continuing need for discovery and necessary preparations related to the adoption and implementation of the new execution protocol.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who since 2011 has commuted death sentences for four men on death row, had no comment about the judge's decision, a spokesman for his office said.

Frost initially ordered a halt to executions in May, barring state officials from carrying out executions until Aug. 15. That decision came after a botched execution in Oklahoma brought renewed scrutiny to lethal injection, and after a lengthy Ohio execution in January that used an untested combination of drugs. Ohio now plans to use those same two drugs in increased dosages.

The decision on Friday also followed the July 23 execution in Arizona of inmate Joseph Wood, who witnesses said "gasped and snorted" for more than 90 minutes as he was put to death at a state prison complex....

The moratorium issued by Frost on Friday is set to remain in effect until January 15, 2015. Frost's actions come after the state said in April it would increase the dose of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone used in its lethal injections.

The last execution in the state took place in January when inmate Dennis McGuire, 53, became the first in the country to be put to death using the midazolam and hydromorphone combination. His execution took 25 minutes and witnesses said McGuire was gasping for breath for at least 15 minutes. McGuire was convicted of the rape and murder of a pregnant woman. After reviewing the execution, state officials said they would increase the dosage of the drugs used in future executions.

Before issuing the extended moratorium, Ohio was set to resume executions on Sept. 18 with the lethal injection of Ronald Phillip, convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993.

August 11, 2014 at 02:27 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I would assume that Judge Frost is unmoved by external pressures but applies his judgment according to the facts that the state has yet to determine or present an adequate formula for future executions. I am happy with that. I hope too, that the legislative state body and other interested parties/experts are considering the larger picture and a review of the need or desirability for the death penalty and executions at all. How many more brakes have to be applied before it dawns on them that here is a chance to rid the state once and for all of an archaic and thoroughly rotten process that is flawed, unnecessary, costly, and which panders only to those who harbour aims of retribution by a mirror death. Today, there is nothing honorable, ethical or moral in the latter.

Posted by: peter | Aug 12, 2014 11:41:10 AM

Frost is a disgrace to the bench.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 12, 2014 8:51:55 PM

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