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September 27, 2007

The impact of Baze in Alabama and Delaware

In this post yesterday, I pondered "What will be the ripples of Baze in the states?".  As detailed in this report from Reuters, today we see how the death penalty pond has been disrupted in Alabama by the Baze stone:

Hours before an inmate's scheduled execution, Alabama's governor issued a temporary stay on Thursday so the state could review its method of lethal injection.  Gov. Bob Riley said Thomas Arthur, a convicted murderer, would be executed after the 45-day stay expires.  Arthur, 65, was scheduled to be executed at Alabama's Holman prison at 6 p.m. "The decision to grant a brief stay is being made only because the state is changing its lethal injection protocol, and this will allow sufficient time for the Department of Corrections to make that change," Riley said in a statement.

Meanwhile, as this local story details, the news from Delaware about Baze's impact is less dramatic, but still consequential:

The class-action federal lawsuit on behalf of Delaware's death row inmates alleging that the state's use of lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual has been put on hold.  The case had been set to go to trial before District Judge Sue L. Robinson in U.S. District Court on Oct. 9.

In her order delaying the case indefinitely, Robinson cited the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court is now set to take up a nearly identical challenge by two death row inmates in Kentucky.

UPDATE:  And the latest news from Texas suggests that the state is still planning to go on with its lethal injection execution tonight.

September 27, 2007 at 05:32 PM | Permalink


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Sounds like Alabama is acting responsibly . . ..

The Delaware case is ridiculous. Delaware executions have been on hold for well over a year. The victims's families should not have to endure this wait.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 27, 2007 5:50:17 PM

What's the word on the Turner execution? I haven't been able to find any media confirming that Texas went ahead, yet the execution was scheduled for 6 pm. What gives?

Posted by: anonymouse | Sep 27, 2007 10:29:53 PM

There is delay in place relating to SCOTUS review of a LI claim. Check the houston chronicle (chron.com) for the latest. I told by other sources that as of 9:45 CST the execution still has not taken place & his death warrant is believed to expire at midnight.

Posted by: karl | Sep 27, 2007 11:01:41 PM

Texas should get rid of this deference to pending appeals. No stay should equal an execution. If the criminal cannot get his appeals last-minute appeals done in a timely fashion, TFB. This guy waited until the last minute. Kill him already.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 27, 2007 11:07:33 PM

karl, thanks a lot for the update, will you be updating your blog tonight as new info comes in?

Posted by: anonymouse | Sep 27, 2007 11:10:07 PM

Apparently, the Supreme Court issued a reprieve. Completely irresponsible. Texas should have executed before the Supreme Court did this.

This stay reeks of judicial arrogance and power, not judgment.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 27, 2007 11:28:51 PM

Well, the Houston Chronicle does say "reprieve," but what does that mean? Does that mean stayed pending Baze? Or just stayed for the next 30 minutes?

Posted by: anonymouse | Sep 27, 2007 11:31:36 PM

He will not be executed tonight. What garbage.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 27, 2007 11:34:06 PM

Houston Chronicle story now says the stay was granted. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/5171307.html

That means nationwide moratorium I suppose, since Turner's lethal injection case (filed for the first time today) was in the worst concievable procedural posture. I guess yesterday's stay was denied because it was presented out of the blue straight to the Supreme Court without going through the normal lower court channels.

Posted by: anonymouse | Sep 27, 2007 11:45:35 PM

This means that many victims' families will be jerked around again. The Supreme Court ought to be thoroughly ashamed of itself. Federal courts should be completely removed from the death penalty process. As a whole, they are completely irresponsible and lawless.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 27, 2007 11:59:26 PM

In light of the "rule of five" for granting stays in capital cases, there appears to be a majority of justices who have problems with LI. If that assumption is correct, all executions -- save for volunteers like William Castillo from Nevada -- may well be on hold until Baze is sorted out, at least for now.

Posted by: karl | Sep 28, 2007 12:28:17 AM

Yes, I think we'll see stays across the board. Though I can't say I expected that.

Posted by: bob | Sep 28, 2007 12:49:21 AM


Executions will mostly (but not completely) be on hold until Baze is decided.

Afterwards, the pace will increase, as it will be known what LI protocol passes muster.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Sep 28, 2007 2:09:02 AM

Wow, "federalist" is one bloodthirsty creep. As I recall, the actual federalists weren't all that keen on big government exercising all kinds of power over the citizenry. Yes, certainly they practiced capital punishment, but they also had slaves and didn't extend the franchise to women. We've clearly advanced, and the spirit of their ideas properly would find "federalist"'s bloodlust & palpable desire to see the state kill its citizens repellant.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 28, 2007 10:16:29 AM

"Bloodlust" really is the right word for federalist, isn't it? His comments recall Jacobin crowds cheering to the fall of the guillotine.

I can understand why people support the death penalty, but not why anyone would cheer for it or boo its opponents as though one were attending a football game.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 28, 2007 12:41:29 PM

Incidentally, does federalist have a job? Every single post that Prof B. has about the DP, federalist usually leaves more than one post ranting about how someone or another should be quickly put to death; he must have a lot of free time on his hands.

Posted by: td | Sep 28, 2007 6:46:05 PM

"Bloodthirsty creep", "jobless" and "bloodlust"--interesting ad hominem.

I don't think you can point to any post in here where I have exulted someone's death or unfairly attacked any poster.

Here are some quotes from a unanimous Supreme Court decision:

1. "Both the states and the victims of crime have an important interest in the timely enforcement of a sentence."

2. " . . . a stay of execution is an equitably remedy. It is not available as a matter of right, and equity must be sensitive to the State's strong interest in enforcing its criminal judgments without undue interference from the federal courts."

3. "A court considering a stay must also apply a strong equitable presumption against the grant of a stay where a claim could have been brought at such a time to allow consideration of the merits without requiring entry of a stay."

4. "The federal courts can and should protect States from dilatory of speculative suits . . . ."

The Supreme Court, in issuing the stay, is talking out of both sides of its mouth. There is no consideration for the victim's family here, nor is there any consideration of why killers should get relief for claims filed on the very day they are supposed to be executed.

And, by the way, TD, it is by no means anywhere close to have been proven that the three-drug protocol would cause unnecessary pain. Seems to me that if the KCl gets to where it needs to be, then it's almost certain that the barbituate does as well.

Posted by: | Oct 1, 2007 7:45:32 PM

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