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August 16, 2012

New lethal injection drug means more delays for Missouri execution plans

As reported in this local article, headlined "Missouri execution dates postponed because of suit over new drug," litigation over lethal injection protocols is slowing down the machinery of death yet again in the Show Me State. Here are the basics:

Twenty-one men on death row — including six who may be next in line to die — say in a lawsuit that Missouri’s new lethal injection drug is unconstitutionally cruel and could force them to spend their final moments screaming in pain.

The latest challenge to the state’s long-troubled injection protocol caused the Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday to postpone the setting of execution dates for the six, saying it would be premature with the case pending....

Some others states with the death penalty also have switched to using a single drug, but none uses propofol.... The suit was filed in June after news leaked out the month before about the Department of Corrections’ change.

"It’s an excuse to delay and, from their perspective, someday hopefully abolish the death penalty," St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told the Post-Dispatch in an interview Monday, before the Supreme Court announcement. "And its a specious argument."

But Rick Sindel, a lawyer representing four of the plaintiffs, said the state’s own expert admitted in court that propofol could cause "excruciating pain."... He complained that the Department of Corrections and attorney general’s office "surreptitiously" hatched the plan without regard for pain....

The inmates’ chief argument is that propofol would cause the "unprecedented, substantial likelihood of foreseeable infliction of excruciating pain," violating their rights with cruel and unusual suffering. Sindel said that 60 to 70 percent of medical patients receiving propofol report pain. For some, "pain is excruciating, causing them to cry out and struggle vigorously," or "scream at the top of their lungs," the suit alleges.

Plantiniffs’ lawyers also have raised issues about the legality of non-doctors using lidocaine, letting corrections Director George Lombardi select the execution method and effectively changing the punishment for crimes after the fact.

Many of those claims have been rejected in court before, the attorney general’s office argued in court filings.... "Plaintiffs seem to contend that despite propofol’s general acceptance and widespread use, the means of execution must have zero pain and zero risk of pain," they continued. "Plaintiffs offer no alternative to propofol that satisfies these criteria."

August 16, 2012 at 07:53 AM | Permalink


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It doesn't cause excruciating pain. Typical capital defense lawyer BS.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 16, 2012 8:04:17 AM


A more general search for "Propofol pain" did turn up many hits from medical literature. It appears to have been a serious problem when the drug was introduced but that preparation and administration methods have largely but not entirely solved it.

As for non-doctors administering Lidocaine I have had many many such injections while starting IV treatments and none of them were administered by a doctor or even while a doctor was present in the room to the best of my recollection. In some of those cases the orders apparently left it to the judgement of the nursing staff as to whether it would actually be used.

The only doctors I am aware of who perform their own injections are specialists of one form or another, dentists, ophthalmologists and the like, not any sort of general practitioner. GPs leave such thing to nurses, and usually not even RNs, since those are few and far between.

So given my quick search and personal experience I can give at least some credit to the Propofol argument but the Lidocaine angle does indeed seem entirely frivolous.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 16, 2012 10:48:47 AM

I gotta a much simpler injection protocol: 44 caliber

(They do make 'em lead free now, too!)

Posted by: Al Ammo | Aug 16, 2012 11:33:23 AM

SH, the issue is whether it causes "excruciating" pain as alleged by the killers' attorney. It plainly does not, at least for the vast majority of patients.

The literature does mention pain, and Lidocaine (which can be administered by a dental technician) has largely resolved it.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 16, 2012 12:27:32 PM

Why didn't Missouri select pentobarbital as other states have? They could have cited several cases from other courts and proceeded with mimimal delay.

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 16, 2012 2:46:29 PM

i know how we can solve the problem!

Each state should take their highest politician then INJECT their drug of choice and then talk to said politician an it works.

That way we will both know how painful it is and how quick it is...and as a BIG side value!

Get rid of 50 fucktard politicians!

a WIN - WIN!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 16, 2012 5:26:22 PM

I would like to say first hand that I just had a colonascopy in the hospital and was given Propofol WITHOUT LIdacaine and they was no pain what so ever. I don't have a high pain tolerance, maybe some people are so afraid and that is what happens to them. My 24 year old daughter, Mindy Griffin was raped, sodomized, beat and strangled twice by Micheal Worthington in her own home in Lake St. Louis in 1995. He was kind enough to leave his semen for DNA and plead guilty and said what he did to Mindy. He was a stranger out on parole from Illinois. He is one of the 21 murderers who have exhausted all their appeals and are awaiting execution. I am really disappointed in our Mo. Supreme Court as it is time to start the ball rolling after all these men have had many many years to sit and waste our taxpayers money on appeals. I understand that the 8th amendment states no cruel or unusal punishment, but I wish my daughter Mindy could have died such an easy death as I'm sure Mindy and all the other girls who were raped, tortured and finally murdered by these murderers cried and begged for their lives. Remember they were the innocent victims not these 21 men who are afraid to die.

Posted by: Carol Angelbeck | Aug 16, 2012 6:09:19 PM

Great post Carol.
I am very sorry for your loss.

I still cannot inderstand why the state would pick a drug that has never been used before when other states have had success with pentobarbital. LI issues have plaqued Missouri for over 6 years now.
I would think the state would select a course that is the least time consuming.

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 16, 2012 6:34:39 PM

Ms. Angelbeck --

The contrast between the obsession with any degree of pain felt by people like the one who killed your daughter, and the indifference to what she must have felt, is both astonishing and revealing.

Murderers are still human beings, but enough is enough. This defense lawyer's claims, like so many defense lawyers' claims, is either wildly exaggerated or flat-out false. They lie because they can get away with it, and indeed are rewarded for it at the next NACDL banquet, for "zealous advocacy," which is defense-speak for not giving a tinkers dam about victims (or anything else having to do with the public good).

I am sorry for your dreadful loss.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 16, 2012 6:35:22 PM

DaveP, my guess is that Missouri picked the drug because it will be plentiful for the foreseeable future. In any event, the courts deserve far more of the blame for this dreadful state of affairs than the state does.

Ms. Angelbeck, I reiterate Bill's sorrow for your loss. Mr. Worthington richly deserves death, and let's hope that he will get it soon.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 16, 2012 6:39:38 PM

That was the only reason I could think of why they would select it. I hope they chose wisely. This opens up a new round of litigation.
Does Judge Gaitan get this case?

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 16, 2012 6:50:53 PM

stating that Worthington "richly deserves death" is an understatement. Let us hope soon comes quick.

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 16, 2012 6:59:47 PM

Thank you to everyone for your caring words. I believe the reason is as stated that it was accessable, but I don't think it will be for long as I read the the manufacturer has called on the other ones to stop selling it for executions as it is manufacturer in Europe and they are against the death penalty. I read that the other drugs have been pulled also so there isn't much else that can be used at this time. I guess that is why I am so disgusted with the so called justice system in our country as the high courts won't carry out the sentence imposed by a jury of the murderers peers and a judge. I don't want to see any innocent person executed, but however as in our case we have his semen DNA and he also plead guilty and said under oath in court what he did to MIndy thinking it would keep him from a death sentence. He also had Scott Rosenblum who is the top criminal defense in the St. Louis area. I was a chapter leader for Parents of Murdered Children for 5 years and the lies I heard from defense lawyers in trial where unbelievable. I honestly thought our system worked, but found out that the police, detectives, proscuting attorney, juries and the judge do their job and then the higher courts allow all these appeals and will let the cases sit as our MO. SUpreme Court is doing right now. Why not set some executions, as they are usually always changed anyway, at least the victims families will have some hope that maybe there will be an end to this part of our loss and we won't have to deal with the legal system anymore.

Posted by: Carol Angelbeck | Aug 16, 2012 9:46:32 PM

Ms. Angelback, I hesitate to make my feelings known given your loss, but your words have redoubled my contempt for the system that has picked at your wounds with its exquisite sensitivities towards murderers and its callous indifference to your suffering. Last I checked, a governmental process was presumed constitutional, and it was up to those challenging it to show it was not. As a result, the Missouri Supreme Court should be setting dates and forcing the murderers to show that the process is unconstitutional. The Court's neutrality as between killers and justice is about as disgusting a thing as I have seen.

DaveP, "Judge" Gaitan is a truly awful jurist. A huge Bush 43 mistake. Almost as bad as "Judge" Frost.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 16, 2012 10:05:53 PM

great post. I find great frustration with several of the states' inability to carry out long overdue death sentences 4 years after Baze. No one could have anticipated the drug shortage issue that has benefited the inmates. Again, I hope Missouri carefully thought this change out and hopefully they can resume soon.

Curious how the inmates present the same exact arguments with the propofol as previously with the others.

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 16, 2012 10:48:26 PM

Seriously, couldn't those states with the death penalty get together and somehow start manufacturing one of the lethal drugs themselves?

Posted by: alpino | Aug 16, 2012 11:40:36 PM

Váš blog je velmi dobrá, líbí se mi to! Děkujeme za vaši sdílení! Váš blog je opravdu pomáhá mé hledání a jsem opravdu rád it.I jen převýšení přestat číst tento. Je to tak cool, tak plný informací, které jsem neznal.

Posted by: casquette new era | Aug 17, 2012 3:35:07 AM

Notice how the abbies are pretending they don't see this thread, rather than even attempt to respond to Ms. Angelbeck.

These guys are a real profile in courage.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 18, 2012 9:47:43 PM

now now, Bill, civility, remember?

Posted by: federalist | Aug 18, 2012 10:51:18 PM

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