Florida death row inmate executed after Supreme Court refuses stay

[JURIST] Clarence Hill [NCADP profile; FLDOC profile], who was convicted of the 1982 murder of a police officer, was executed Wednesday in Florida after the US Supreme Court denied [order, PDF] his request to stay the execution. Five justices voted to refuse the stay; Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens would have granted the stay of execution. Hill filed a petition [JURIST report] Monday with the US Supreme Court after the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied [opinion, PDF] a motion to stay Hill's execution while he pursues an appeal arguing that Florida's method of lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment [text]. In a June 2006 decision in Hill v. McDonough [Duke Law case backgrounder], the Supreme Court held [JURIST report] that a death row inmate can challenge the constitutionality of a state's method of lethal injection [JURIST news archive] under 42 USC 1983 [text] even when all other appeals have been exhausted. The Court previously granted a stay of execution [JURIST report] for Hill in January 2006 to allow time to consider the case.

Hill's lawyers had argued [JURIST report] that the Florida system of execution can cause severe pain. Like other states that authorize lethal injection [DPIC backgrounder], Florida uses a three-drug system to execute criminals; the first of which acts as a painkiller while the second one paralyzes, and finally the third drug causes a fatal heart attack. A 2005 study [registration required] published in the medical journal Lancet [journal website], however, indicated that the painkiller may wear off before the inmate dies. AP has more.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.