« Some recent highlights from Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform | Main | South Dakota legislator suggests using drug war proceeds to fund public defenders »

December 25, 2014

Ohio officials (and taxpayers) get a lethal injection lawsuit for the holidays

On the last day of Hanukkah which happened also to be Christmas Eve, a group of lawyers for a quartet of Ohio condemned prisoners gave the state a very predictable present: a lawsuit challenging Ohio's new lethal injection law.  This local story, headlined "Death-row inmates challenge new execution-secrecy rules," provides the details (and this link to the suit):

Four death-row inmates are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's new execution secrecy rules, their attorney announced Wednesday morning.  In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus, the inmates claim the new law, which shields the identities of most participants in Ohio's execution process, violates their rights to free speech and due process.

Proponents of the rules, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich last week, say they are needed to protect individuals involved with Ohio executions from harassment and potential harm.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon on behalf of death-row inmates Ronald Phillips, Raymond Tibbetts, Robert Van Hook and Grady Brinkley.  The first three are scheduled to be executed next year; Brinkley's execution date has not yet been set.

Under the new law, House Bill 663, Ohio must keep secret the names of people involved with executions, other than top officials.  The law also protects the identity of small-scale drug manufacturers called compounding pharmacies if they make lethal-injection drugs for the state.  The inmates' lawsuit claims these measures violate the First Amendment because they were passed to silence death-penalty critics and "foreclose all effective advocacy" against executions in Ohio.

The lawsuit also challenges other parts of the law that require courts to seal such information from the public and prevents the state's medical board from disciplining physicians who testify about Ohio's execution method.  "These laws violate some of the most basic principles upon which our democracy was founded," said Timothy Sweeney, the inmates' attorney, in a statement.  "Everyone should be deeply troubled by this bold piece of legislation which has been passed to artificially reduce public criticism of government actions in one of the most important areas in which it acts: the taking of a human life."

The defendants in the lawsuit are Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, state prisons director Gary Mohr and Donald Morgan, warden of Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where Ohio's executions are carried out.  DeWine spokeswoman Lisa Hackley said Wednesday that the attorney general's office is reviewing the lawsuit.  Spokesmen for the governor's office and the state's prisons agency declined comment.

HB 663 is an attempt to overcome problems that Ohio — like many other states — has had obtaining lethal-injection drugs in recent years. Ohio ran out of its preferred lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital, last year because European pharmaceutical companies refused to continue selling it for use in executions....

Supporters of HB 663 say that the state could turn to compounding pharmacies to make pentobarbital, but the companies are reluctant to make lethal-injection drugs unless they can remain anonymous, for fear of public reprisal.  DeWine and other proponents of the legislation have said the changes are needed if Ohio is to resume executions next February, once a court-ordered moratorium ends.

As long-time readers know, Ohio's execution problems, plans and procedures have been subject to extensive litigation over the last half-decade. Time will tell if this latest litigation will extend another half-decade. As the title of this post indicates, Ohio (and federal) taxpayers get the bill for all this litigation, and I cannot help but wonder how much Ohio costs its taxpayers by trying took keep its death penalty system alive and killing.

December 25, 2014 at 01:59 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Ohio officials (and taxpayers) get a lethal injection lawsuit for the holidays:


i hold the judges allowing these claims to proceed past an immediate first pleading. They are actually frivolous and for the purpose of intimidation of compounding pharmacists. I would pass legislation making the defense bar liable for any damages done to them or their property. It is time to retaliate against the judges allowing these claims. I intend to file complaints with the Judicial Review Board of Ohio, if I can learn their names.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 25, 2014 10:04:49 PM

"Jesus on Death Row" by Mark Osler


Posted by: Joe | Dec 26, 2014 8:55:57 AM

Without offense to my devout friends, and I have many, would we all be better off living, today, under what followed Roman Civilization? Or under what actually happened, living under the culture of Palestinians, and Iraqi tribesmen, with a 1000 year hiatus in all progress, imposed at point of sword by filthy pigs? What is more exasperating is that the Catechism of 1275 AD, the product of Iraqi tribal culture, of people who live like pigs, is the model of the common law, today, forced on us all at the point of a gun by the sicko criminal cult enterprise that is the legal profession's hierarchy. Sickening, as in barf class disgusting. Jesus and his sick Palestinians should have been quietly dispatched, without the drama, that is if his existence can ever be verified more than that of Thor or Odin. I have often complained of fictitious doctrines by the lawyer traitor. Fiction violates the Establishment Clause. All fiction in the law is from case and loophole seeking. So a virgin is pregnant. She can face stoning or lie, saying, it was a virgin birth. The executioners are incompetent, and people revive from their executions a few days later, than disappears because he is finally dead from internal bleeding. So we have the Resurrection. I have no criticisms of our ancestors 2000 years ago, they did the beat they could. I reserve my criticism and indictment for the lawyer traitors still using these fairy tales to imposed their power and to plunder the productive male, to the tune of a $trillion, the biggest criminal enterprise ever.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 27, 2014 10:53:17 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB