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October 24, 2007

Comical lethal injection coverage from The Onion

Lethalinjectionfrontpage_thumbnail Proving yet again that it truly is "America's Finest News Source," The Onion has this new coverage of the legal brouhaha over lethal injection protocols. The article is headlined "Lethal Injection Ban Leads To Rise In Back-Alley Lethal Injections," and here are just a few of many highlights:

To all outward appearances, "Kevin" is a typical Southern state governor.  He enjoys vetoing bills, attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and hanging out with friends.  But the recent suspension of lethal injections in 10 states has put Kevin's political life in serious jeopardy. Unable to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether the practice constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, Kevin, like many young governors who find themselves saddled with an unwanted death row inmate, has been forced to take desperate action and obtain an illegal back-alley lethal injection.

"It was awful," said Kevin, who still suffers from nightmares after witnessing the prisoner die in horrible agony without any anesthesia.  "We did it on an old card table. All the equipment was really rusty and dirty.  I just closed my eyes and prayed for it to be over."  "I had my whole political career ahead of me," Kevin continued through tears. "If I didn't do it, the voters would have left me. I couldn't see any other way."...

Lethal injection has long been a polarizing issue and, according to proponents of the banned procedure, Kevin's story is becoming all too common.  Dr. Daniel Blecker, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and expert on capital punishment, said that the illegal back-alley execution trend will only intensify if the ban is upheld....  "The reality of the situation is that you can't legislate lethal injections away," Blecker said. "If governors can't inhumanely execute prisoners legally in prisons, they're going to turn elsewhere for the procedure.  More often than not with tragic results."

October 24, 2007 at 12:39 PM | Permalink


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So the governors are the real victims, right?

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 24, 2007 1:21:01 PM

Maybe ridicule is just about the only tool left to rein in the increasingly maverick and anarchic behavior of the courts and others. Reason seems to be the last concept on their agenda.

Posted by: peter | Oct 24, 2007 1:23:30 PM

Peter, One of the problems with your argument is that you don't actually cite specifics of the "anarchic behavior" of courts that you refer to. Normally this is fatal to an argument (and in some circles provokes ridicule or expulsion). I would be curious to know what decisions you consider "anarchic." It is strange to think that an enforceable decision of a court is "anarchic" because simply the fact that a judgment of a court "is" a law would mean that we are not living in a state of anarchy.

Perhaps you not only used the word "anarchic" without thinking what it means, but you also have never actually read a single decision from a court. This is very troubling to the Republic.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 24, 2007 1:40:57 PM

S.cotus, really? "[A] judgment of a court 'is' a law?" I always thought that legislatures were supposed to make laws. Wow, thanks for enlightening me.

Posted by: Steve | Oct 24, 2007 2:01:16 PM

Yep. Judgments of courts are “the law.” Why? Unless stayed pending appeal you need to follow them. (Your post indicates that you might not be a lawyer, in which case I would recommend moving to some country where you might feel more comfortable.)

In fact, and this may surprise you there are many sources of law in the US:
Sure, we got your statutes.
We also have your regulations by administrative agencies. Those agencies also making rulings with less force than actual regulations
We got your common law (which, in fact is recognized in the 7th amendment of the constitution)
We got your international law (See U.S. Const. Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 10)
There is this constitution I keep hearing so much about. Then we got interpretations of such a constitution. Some people that did not perform well in a legal argument do like certain interpretations, but because not enough people agree with them to change the constitution, they call those interpretations “activist” as a means to get non-lawyers to agree with them.
What else?
We got rules and customs of trade, tribes, families, etc.
Oh, yeah... court rules

And the list goes on and on.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 24, 2007 3:12:30 PM

Obviously, the real victims in this situation are the companies that produce lethal injection paraphanalia. If we don't resume executions, more American workers will join the ranks of the unemployed.

Once again, we find ourselves lagging behind China.

Posted by: JJ | Oct 24, 2007 3:13:38 PM

And since it is proven that unemployed people are likely to commit crimes (I mean, how many times have you seen an "employed drifter" or a "strategic management consultant" convicted of murder), then there will be a greater demand for the killing materials of these companies.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 24, 2007 3:32:43 PM

Let me assure you that I have indeed read every single word of a good number of trial transcriptions and Appeal Court decisions. I wish I could report that I was impressed. I have also read a significant number of Supreme Court rulings, sending back to those same courts rejections of their findings - sometimes repeatedly for the same reason.
I have written primarily of the death penalty because that is the area of most immediate and on-going experience at my disposal. I deliberately used the term "anarchic" partly because I knew it would provoke a response (a reasonable debating strategy I think); partly because where courts fail to give genuine scrutiny to valid appeals, on the basis of the conduct/decisions of attorneys that have been perhaps erroneous, or the result of inexperience, or even for perfectly valid strategy at a moment in the legal process, it unreasonably penalizes defendants at the risk of their lives; and partly because I believe the Constitution was written to protect all citizens from the abuse of State and Federal power - and I find little evidence that much of the appeals process is conducted within that spirit with regard to the convicted. Where there is inconsistency, where there is avoidance, where there is refusal to accept Supreme Court ruling on fundamental points of law; where there is the abuse of power to destroy lives rather than offer a chance of redemption and a future - all of these warrant in my world the use of the word "anarchic".
The results of too many court decisions cause chaos, not order in the lives of real people; more fly deliberately at a challenge to the law, seemingly from political influence/leaning. When there is evidence that the courts respect and value the life of a convict, and the lives of his/her family, then perhaps my stance will soften. I fear I have long wait. You will have to excuse my lack of specificity - my hands are somewhat tied. But you do not have to look far on a forum such as this to find the examples that support the contentions I have made. Oh, and I have looked up the meaning of the word "anarchic" - "Characterized by confusion and lack of order". And that pretty much sums up the world of sentencing today in my book.

Posted by: peter | Oct 24, 2007 4:10:37 PM

Peter, Let me assure you that I have made every effort to talk to lay people, but it is, quite frankly, hard. I am convinced that non-lawyers are of a different species than lawyers.

Unfortunately, because you cannot cite a specific case which illustrates any of your points (providing the relevant text), it would seem that you are just generally bitter about what you see as the overall set of results.

We deal in specifics. Vague things are left to teenagers and people hanging out with their suitemates.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 24, 2007 7:32:48 PM

Oh wow, what arrogance!
Maybe you should read Doug's latest post re the composition of the Supreme Court.
Your efforts to silence a broader discussion of the concepts in favor of the minutiae of legal judgment does you no credit. The law is not simply a textbook exercise of the intellect - it affects the lives of real human beings. If you cannot put the minutiae into the context of the broader picture, and empathize with the human effects of them, then your scholarship has failed.
Personal attacks on me are, I'm afraid to say, like water on a ducks back. At the grand old age of 59, it's rather flattering to be compared to a teenager.

Posted by: peter | Oct 25, 2007 1:51:44 AM

As a non lawyer S.cotus seems to think I am too stupid to have an opinion on any legal matters. You bring this up on almost every post. So I suppose by this logic, no one can question what the military does if you haven't been in the military; you can't question the president if you have never been a president, etc. And I am glad to be a different specie than a lawyer.
But since this article was written "toungue in cheek" here is my "toungue in cheek" question on the matter:
If the constitutional prohibition is against "cruel and unusual" punishment, it would seem logical that "cruel but usual" or "unusual but not cruel" punishments would be permitted. When you include the word "and" in an arguement, both halves have to be true for the whole thing to be true.

Posted by: | Oct 25, 2007 11:41:45 AM

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