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October 5, 2009

NEWSFLASH: Ohio Governor puts all state executions on hold until at least Dec. 2009

Responding to both the recent failed execution efforts in the Broom case and the stay entered by a federal court today in the Reynolds case, Ohio's Governor has put a halt to all executions in the state until at least 2010. These breaking details are reported in this local press report, which starts this way:

Gov. Ted Strickland issued reprieves Monday for two death row inmates scheduled for execution in coming weeks. Te move came after a federal court issued a stay in the case of Lawrence Reynolds, citing ongoing legal arguments following the failed execution of Romell Broom last month.

Under Strickland's reprieves, Reynolds would face a March 9 execution, while Darryl Durr's execution would be set for April 20. Reynolds was to face the death penalty on Thursday for murdering a Cuyahoga Falls woman in 1994. Durr, convicted in a Cuyahoga County rape and murder of a teen-ager in 1988, was scheduled for lethal injection in November.

"Since Sept. 15, the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections has been working to establish a back-up or alternative lethal injection protocol in the unlikely event similar circumstances arise when implementing the death penalty in the future," Strickland said in a released statement. "While the department has made progress, additional time is needed to fully conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of an alternative or back-up lethal injection protocol that is in accordance with Ohio law.  Therefore, I have decided to issue two reprieves ... I have asked Director Collins to continue working to ensure the death penalty is administered fairly and effectively here in Ohio."

Strickland also left open the possibility of issuing additional reprieves, though the two issued Monday did not cover Kenneth Biros, scheduled for execution in December for a brutal 1991 murder in Trumbull County. "While I believe that the department will be able to complete its research and evaluation, select an appropriate back-up or alternative lethal injection procedure, and conduct any training or other preparation necessitated by that selection by the time of Mr. Biros; scheduled execution in December, I will issue any additional reprieves I deem necessary to the appropriate administration of executions under Ohio law," Strickland wrote.

The full statement by Governor Strickland can be found at this link.

Some recent related posts on Ohio lethal injection issues:

UPDATE:  I've tweked this post title to reflect the fact that Gov Strickland's statement leave open the possibility that Ohio will be able to get its execution protocol straightened out by Dec. 2009.  Realistically, though, especially given that the federal court hearing on the failed execution attempt is not scheduled until Nov. 30, I will be quite surprised if Ohio executes anyone before winter turns to spring in 2010.

October 5, 2009 at 04:43 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Oct 5, 2009 7:11:50 PM


what a wuss . . . .

Posted by: federalist | Oct 5, 2009 4:44:46 PM

Does this nix any en banc or SCOTUS review of the panel decision?

Posted by: . | Oct 5, 2009 4:52:02 PM

Governor Strickland is a psychologist.

I once suggested to psychologist friends, why not have psychologists run the criminal law, get rid of the self-dealing lawyer in utter failure? Psychologists study punishment, are interested in psychopathology, and learn how to change habitual behavior.

Unanimously, they said, absolutely not. Psychologists would be far worse than the lawyer in PC, in coddling criminals, in rent seeking. I withdrew that suggestion.

Friends were correct.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 5, 2009 5:01:34 PM

Yes, federalist...far better to spend money Ohio doesn't have fighting a court battle up to SCOTUS (and possibly losing so we can start the process all over again) instead of tinkering procedures and delaying the executions half a year instead.

I agree that Strickland is a wuss on most policy issues, but this is a sensible move.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Oct 5, 2009 5:16:29 PM

We actually did come close to that in sentencing at one time, S.C. Under the "indeterminate sentencing" regime, the judge sentenced the defendant to some range, e.g., one day to life, and then some experts in the executive branch (corrections dept., parole board, or somebody) would decide when the wonderful rehabilitation programs had done their magic and the reformed ex-offender could be safely released to go and sin no more. We had boundless faith in the experts. Criminals were broken people, you see, and the experts knew how to fix them.

Then some researchers decided to do actual hard-nosed evaluation of the rehabilitation programs and came to the embarrassing conclusion that none of them worked. Oops.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 5, 2009 6:25:42 PM

Am I missing something? The post headline says the moratorium (or whatever it is) extends at least until 2010, but the article quoted seems to say that the Governor has not yet ruled out going forward with an execution in December 2009...

Posted by: anon | Oct 5, 2009 6:40:43 PM

Good point, anon, and I'll tweak the headline accordingly...

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 5, 2009 8:49:35 PM

Perhaps an intracardiac injection of potassium chloride could be performed when a vein cannot be found, preceded by an inhalant anaesthetic like ethylene or nitrous oxide.

Posted by: Ed Unneland | Oct 6, 2009 12:58:04 PM

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