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March 7, 2006

Federal executions stayed due to lethal injection concerns

Another chapter of the lethal injections scrummages is starting to play out in the federal system, where three executions were scheduled for this May.  Here are highlights from this slightly confusing story from Indiana:

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ordered a preliminary injunction Feb. 24, barring the Bureau of Prisons from executing James H. Roane Jr., Richard Tipton and Cory Johnson. 

The three co-defendants had been scheduled to die in May at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, home to the nation's federal death row.  The trio were sentenced to die after being convicted in a string of drug-related murders in Richmond, Va....

In her ruling, Huvelle also stayed the three men's federal lawsuit on the constitutionality of lethal injections, pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Florida case....  Separately, attorneys for Roane, Tipton and Johnson also are alleging in a federal lawsuit that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.  They filed the suit in December in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Because it seems from this story that there is parallel litigation on the lethal injection issue, I am not entirely certain what the government's next step might be.  I would suspect an appeal of Judge Huvelle's stay in the Seventh Circuit would be in order, though perhaps the Justice Department has little interest in pushing this issue until the Hill case is resolved in the Supreme Court.

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March 7, 2006 at 01:33 AM | Permalink


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That story is indeed confusing. Huvelle is a district judge in Washington, DC. Were the defendants convicted in the D.C. District Court? If not, why is she hearing the case? And now that she has entered the stay, why wouldn't an appeal be taken to the D.C. Circuit?

Posted by: LT | Mar 7, 2006 12:38:24 PM

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