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May 22, 2006

SCOTUS denies cert on direct challenge to lethal injection

As noted here at SCOTUSblog, today the Supreme Court decided not to decide a Tennessee case (Abdur'Rahman v. Bredesen, No. 05-1036) that directly addresses the constitutionality of lethal injection protocols.  My first reaction is to lament the Court's decision to avoid resolving this critical issue on the merits ASAP.  But, upon reflection, I wonder if the denial of cert in Abdur'Rahman is a sign that we will get some substantive discussion of lethal injection protocols through the Court's work on the Hill case.

Coincidentally, the National Law Journal today has this article entitled "Lethal injection stays not consistent in U.S.: Awaiting high court review, courts are divided and attorneys unnerved."  Here's a taste:

The situation around the country is unnerving for defense lawyers where stays may be handed out in one circuit but denied in the circuit next door.  "The problem is we have no guidance from the court on how to defend our clients," said Kelley Henry, one of [Tennessee death row defendant Sedley] Alley's lawyers. "It is very discouraging when your client's life is on the line."...

[A]ccording to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington ... the "death penalty is basically grinding to a halt, but that means in the meantime some people are executed and some are not."

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May 22, 2006 at 10:12 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on May 22, 2006 7:27:09 PM


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