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May 26, 2017

Alabama finally carries out death sentence for Thomas Arthur

As reported here by CNN, "Alabama executed death row inmate Tommy Arthur early Friday after a lengthy court battle that included multiple lethal injection delays." Here is more:

Arthur, 75, was convicted in the 1982 murder-for-hire of romantic rival Troy Wicker. The inmate, who was nicknamed the "Houdini" of death row because he'd had seven prior execution dates postponed, died by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay Thursday, then lifted it later that night, leading to his execution.

"No governor covets the responsibility of weighing the merits of life or death; but it is a burden I accept as part of my pledge to uphold the laws of this state," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. "Three times Tommy Arthur was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Each time his case was reviewed thoroughly at every level of both our state and federal courts, and the appellate process has ensured that the rights of the accused were protected."

Arthur's lawyers had filed motions arguing that Alabama's method of execution was cruel and unusual, and that the attorneys should have access to a cellphone while witnessing the execution. Before the Supreme Court decision, stay requests had been rejected by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the governor....

Arthur was convicted of killing Wicker of Muscle Shoals by shooting him in the right eye on February 1, 1982, according to court documents. He was a work release prisoner at that time. He had been convicted of killing his sister-in-law in 1977, also by shooting her in the right eye.

May 26, 2017 at 09:29 AM | Permalink

Comments

Sotomayor had a solo dissent reaffirming her concerns about the specific lethal injection drug, including not allowing the lawyers to have access to a phone if any problems arose. On Twitter -- which now has a somewhat morbid death watch in respect to certain reporters -- press at site said the "no phone" policy applied to the media as well.

The concern for the particular method has been discussed in the past. The state argued the phone claim was in effect made too late etc. I'll grant that but wonder of the logic of the policy. It is sensible to have a right to a lawyer while being executed to assure it goes smoothly, including access to the outside to flag problems.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/tommy-arthur-alabama-execution-2017?utm_term=.epr1Pbp2P#.vgJmGbdpG [briefs]

The specific claims here were limited and not likely to succeed. Ultimately, one is led to think big term. Why execute him? His crime was heinous, a murder for hire, but don't think decades in prison isn't an appropriate punishment. The argument will be made the sentence was set and there was an interest in carrying it out. This brings us back to the need for the sentence in the first place. Yet again a few heinous people are executed while many more are not. This is the choice and obvious result of the policy in place.

The author of the blog is concerned with all the attention given to such cases. But, perhaps the solution there is to stop executing people, so we can use our criminal justice system resources for better things.

Posted by: Joe | May 26, 2017 11:42:02 AM

"But, perhaps the solution there is to stop executing people, so we can use our criminal justice system resources for better things."

Then convince your fellow citizens to repeal laws authorizing capital punishment instead of trying to get the courts to twist the law to put a stop to it. As it stands though, capital punishment is the choice of the democracy, and spending resources to ensure that it happens IS important as it is an investment in self-government.

Sotomayor's opinion is dense. The science doesn't support her view that massive doses of midazolam (and, by the way, the dose of the paralytic) don't render the guy insensate. As for the no access to phone--ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Posted by: federalist | May 26, 2017 12:59:04 PM

Then convince your fellow citizens to repeal laws authorizing capital punishment instead of trying to get the courts to twist the law to put a stop to it.

I am all for that and in practice my fellow citizens, except for a few states, by their actions show they are against the death penalty except at best in a few special circumstances. I don't think the courts are "twisting" the law as a whole either.

As it stands though, capital punishment is the choice of the democracy, and spending resources to ensure that it happens IS important as it is an investment in self-government.

As it stands, the democracy, as it does in general, puts in place imperfect legislation that in practice has many problems, some of a constitutional dimension. Among the many things we need to do to carry out democracy in this country, focusing on executing a few more people is an arguable priority. The people themselves think so too given how much doing so is repeatedly put on the back-burner including by the people they directly or indirectly put in place to carry things out here.

Sotomayor's opinion is dense. The science doesn't support her view that massive doses of midazolam (and, by the way, the dose of the paralytic) don't render the guy insensate. As for the no access to phone--ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

There are expert testimony that disagrees with you on "the science" as I have repeatedly referenced, at times citing specific examples of analysis on the point. This leads experts to argue if we execute alternative methods would be best. But, I'm not an expert and there surely is dispute on the question.

Finally, glad it amuses you, but as a basic principle, having an attorney there while the execution goes on that has access to the outside if something goes wrong -- especially given repeated evidence that things has -- is not as funny to me.

Posted by: Joe | May 26, 2017 5:26:12 PM

Joe, when you have judges like the idiots on the 11th Circuit who thought that the identity of a drug manufacturer was relevant after the purity of the drugs were tested, then that's pretty strong evidence of a judiciary that twists the law. (Or you could look at the Maples case from a few years ago . . . .) But your credibility is pretty much shot on that--you cannot defend a lot of the decisions that come down the pike from 'rat judges. (I love that term--almost as good as the "wise [sic] Latina."

What I think is funny about the "lawyer gotta have a cellphone" is the utter bereftness of legal analysis. Open courts provisions have NEVER been interpreted to require that the government facilitate the filing of a last-minute lawsuit. There are limits. I just think Sotomayor clowns herself with this nonsense---there's nothing that says that the condemned even gets to have a lawyer present at an execution.

As for the evidence--newsflash, experts are willing to testify to just about anything. They juice the guy up with enough to kill a horse, and the mecuronium bromide or pancuronium bromide is enough to kill an elephant. (Ain't the stuff a curare derivative?)

Posted by: federalist | May 26, 2017 10:47:31 PM

Hope you enjoyed it, DAB.

Posted by: anon | May 27, 2017 1:02:56 PM

"The Democracy" once placed laws into effect laws that outlawed marriage between different races; so that's okay with you? Fortunately, constitutional rights aren't subject to popular vote.

Posted by: Mark M. | May 28, 2017 10:50:03 AM

Mark, your posts are tiresome. The polity has the right to execute murderers.

Posted by: federalist | May 28, 2017 5:47:09 PM

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