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January 26, 2006

How will the Hill case impact execution plans?

As evidenced by my commentaries here and here, I am curious and uncertain about how other planned executions might be impacted by the Supreme Court's decision to grant cert in the Hill case concerning procedures for challenging the constitutionality of a method of execution.  Recent articles from California and North Carolina suggest others are curious and uncertain, too.

Notably, Indiana has an execution scheduled for early Friday morning, and this article indicates that, after the governor denied clemency, the defendant's attorney is now "asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution [citing] the court's decision to hear a case involving a Florida death row inmate challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment."  Also, Maryland has an execution scheduled for next week, and this article reports that a "hearing will be conducted Friday in federal court on a condemned Maryland inmate's effort to halt his execution ... [by] challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's lethal injection process."

Related recent posts:

UPDATE:  Apparently no more than two Justices are really all that concerned about lethal injection.  As Lyle Denniston reports here, the Court on Thursday evening "cleared the way for Indiana to carry out after midnight the execution of Marvin Bieghler, refusing to hear his challenge to the process of lethal injection that the state uses to carry out a death sentence.... Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that they would grant the stay."

Ultimately, I am not surprised that a majority of Justices are prepared to still allow states to go forward with execution plans.  But I remain surprised that the Court bothered to intervene in the Hill case just to make sure his claim about lethal injection (which appears doomed on the merits) gets formally considered (and rejected) through the right procedural mechanism.

FURTHER UPDATE: As detailed in Lyle Denniston's updates here, the litigation over the Indiana execution took some late night twists and turns before the (constitutionally uncertain?) lethat injection protocol went forward.  More details on the Indiana case can be found in this news account.

January 26, 2006 at 06:10 PM | Permalink


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