Breaking News - Missouri Supremes Uphold Execution Procedures

Started by Jeff1857, February 25, 2009, 05:55:13 AM

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Jeff1857

Missouri high court upholds execution procedures


The state Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the means by which Missouri adopted its lethal injection procedures, clearing a barrier that had halted executions.

Although once among the annual leaders in executions, Missouri has not put anyone to death since October 2005 because of various legal challenges to its method of lethal injection.

It was not immediately clear when executions would resume as a result of Tuesday's ruling. In Missouri, execution dates are set by the state Supreme Court separately from its rulings on cases. The court did not immediately schedule any executions.

The Department of Corrections released a statement Tuesday saying it was ready to carry out executions.

The Missouri attorney general's office previously had requested execution dates for more than a dozen convicted murderers. Those requests still stand, spokesman Travis Ford said.

In 2006, a federal judge declared Missouri's lethal injection process unconstitutional after the surgeon who previously oversaw the state's executions testified he sometimes transposed numbers and operated without written procedures or supervision.

The Department of Corrections responded in July 2006 by adopting written execution procedures detailing the precise amounts and order of the chemicals to be injected into condemned inmates. A federal judge upheld the protocol last year.

But a group of 17 condemned prisoners, 5 relatives, 3 clergy members and 2 Democratic lawmakers subsequently sued in state court on grounds that the procedures should have been adopted as an official rule, which would require a public comment period.

A Cole County judge dismissed the lawsuit in August and the case was appealed.

In a 4-3 decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling and decided that execution procedures did not have to be adopted as formal rules.

The case hinged on definitions in state law.

Missouri law defines a rule to be an "agency statement of general applicability" that implements or interprets a law or describes agency procedures.

Among the things not considered a rule under Missouri law are "a statement concerning only inmates" or "a statement concerning only the internal management of an agency (that) does not substantially affect the legal rights of, or procedures available to, the public."

Writing for the majority, Judge Mary Russell said the execution procedures affected only inmates. To the extent that medical professionals are involved in performing an execution, their "role is purely mechanical," Russell wrote.

She also cited a state law specifically making the execution protocol a public record as evidence that legislators did not consider it part of the rule-making process, which would have automatically been public.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Richard Teitelman said the execution procedures don't relate exclusively to inmates but also to medical professionals. He pointed to the law making the execution protocol a public record as evidence that lawmakers wanted it to be subject to public rule-making procedures.

The inmates had been represented before the Supreme Court by Joe Luby, an attorney with the nonprofit Public Interest Litigation Clinic in Kansas City.

"This is a question of which the state Supreme Court has the last word," Luby said Tuesday. "It's a question of Missouri law, and while we disagree with the court's opinion, we certainly respect it."

(source: The Columbia Missourian)
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Let's Roll!!!

Michael

Fine, another state enters (hopefuly) the group of states which respects the sentences by its judges and juries.

Michael
I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

JeffB

Let's Roll!!!

Let's roll indeed...  (Denis Skillicorn, et al..)...  I wonder how long it will take to re-establish execution dates?
"SO SUCK IT YOU "BLUE COOLER" DOPE!"  -  Sylar24

Granny B

Well, they haven't executed anyone since the legal challenge in 2005, that is 4 years at least.  Probably take about 4 more years to get it going again. You know the cogs of justice roll slower and slower, because the antis are clogging up the system with frivolous crap to keep serial murderers alive. >:(
" Closure? Closure is a misused word in the English language.  There is no such thing as closure for the family of a murder victim.  There will never be any closure for the death of our loved ones until we are dead ourselves.  The families have a lifetime sentence of anguish and sadness." 
Susan Levy

Rick4404

Given this ruling which was handed down today, hopefully the Missouri Supreme Court will sign off on a few death warrants to help relieve the backlog of cases that have been waiting.

JT

Missouri has already set two dates since the Baze ruling (Skillicorn and Middleton), both of which were stayed due to these lethal injection issues.  Now that they've been cleared up, we can get right back to work again.
JT's Ridiculous Quote of the Century:
"I'm disgusted with the State for even putting me in this position."
-- Reginald Blanton, Texas death row.  As of October 27, 2009, Reggie's position has been in a coffin.

vikkiw47

this is great news, lets hope they start to do something.
Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full.

Jacques

Move it  ;)

Best

Jacques

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein

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