Supreme Court Expands Right to Challenge Lethal Injection Procedure

The Supreme Court today paved the way for more death row inmates to challenge execution by lethal injection.

In an unanimous decision, the court allowed those condemned to die to make last-minute claims that the chemicals used are too painful _ and therefore amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

Via ScotusBlog:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that death row inmates seeking to challenge the lethal injection method of execution may pursue the issue as a civil rights claim, a broader option than federal habeas. The ruling came in Hill v. McDonough (05-8794). While not ruling itself on the constitutionality of that execution procedure, the Court said that inmates who contend that the three-drug protocol most commonly used causes unnecessary pain and suffering may go forward with an Eighth Amendment claim under the 1867 civil rights statute, so-called Section 1983.

In another decision, House v. Bell, the court opened the door to more actual innocence claims. Gina Holland of the AP reports (link above):

Justices, in a separate 5-3 ruling, also made it easier for death row inmates to challenge their convictions with new evidence. The court said Tennessee death-row inmate Paul Gregory House can use DNA evidence to try to get his conviction overturned in the 1985 murder of a neighbor.

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    Re: Supreme Court Expands Right to Challenge Letha (none / 0) (#1)
    by HK on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 10:47:38 AM EST
    This is very good news and long overdue. For years now DP states have been ignoring the growing evidence about the many short-comings of the lethal injection and the procedure by which it is administered. Those who think that a painless death is too good for such criminals are missing the nuances contained in this issue and misinterpreting the purpose of the criminal justice system. Anyone who is interested in this subject would do well to read this article by Professor Deborah Denno. Professor Denno is a well-respected Law professor who actually agrees with the death penalty in principle but as a result of her detailed investigation into the subject believes that it can never be fairly and meaningfully carried out. She has exposed the lethal injection for the sham it is. Maybe people are ready to start listening to her. On a final note, while I applaud these moves forward and look to the future, I can't help but think of the many inmates these changes are too late for.

    nah .. we did not miss the point .. which is lawyers love to hairsplitting exercises. After all, if they don't put in their 8 hours, how can they justify their fees?
    Narius, you have missed the point again.

    Re: Supreme Court Expands Right to Challenge Letha (none / 0) (#4)
    by HK on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 12:50:49 PM EST
    Plus, do you not realise that this site is owned and run by exactly the type of lawyer you have just slated?

    Re: Supreme Court Expands Right to Challenge Letha (none / 0) (#5)
    by phat on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 04:35:30 PM EST
    This is great news. I'm pretty much convinced that the current protocols for lethal injection are on their way out. Thanks, HK, for that Denno link. That is one hell of a great article. I haven't even finished it yet and I'm astounded. If only I could distill it into talking points for the radio and tv. phat

    Re: Supreme Court Expands Right to Challenge Letha (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimcee on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 08:58:19 PM EST
    Perhaps a nice opium drip in increasing proportions until the executed dies in a nod of euphoria. Even death often needs subtle refinements if one can actually choose how they will die. Too bad we don't all have pro bono representives to soften our departure from our own mortal coils.