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January 31, 2006

SCOTUS lethal injection litigation updates

I pondered here how the the Supreme Court's decision to permit Indiana to go forward with a lethal injection execution — despite stopping Florida's effort to execute Charles Hill and granting cert on his case adressing the procedures for challenging a lethal injection (discussed here and here) — would impact litigation unfolding around executions scheduled for today in Florida and Texas.  Now this AP article reports that SCOTUS has granted a stay in the Florida case, while this AP article reports that the Supreme Court refused to stop the Texas execution.

Though I am not sure of the procedural posture of each case, I cannot really think of a good legal reason why the defendant in Florida received a stay while the defendant in Texas didn't.  My instinct is that the Court simply concluded that it would be unseemly to allow Florida to conduct a lethal injection while the Hill case was pending. 

So, to answer my prior question, it seem the Hill case has produced a de facto moratorium on execution only in the state of Florida.  And thus, the tempest over lethal injection proves yet again tha geography more than justice often determines who lives and who dies in the administration of capital punishment.

UPDATE:  This article details that the lethal injection tempest has delayed a planned execution in Missouri, while drawing the district court, the Eighth Circuit and SCOTUS into the action.  What a capital mess the Hill grant seems to have produced.

January 31, 2006 at 08:44 PM | Permalink


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