Maryland high court rules lethal injection procedures subject to public review

[JURIST] The Maryland Court of Appeals [official website] ruled [PDF text] Wednesday that the state's lethal injection procedures are subject to the state's Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and therefore must be developed under the guidance of the Maryland attorney general, a legislative committee and with review and comment by the public unless the legislature acts to explicitly exempt lethal injection protocol from the APA. The majority of the court wrote:

we hold that those aspects of the [Executions Operations Manual] that direct the manner of executing the death sentence - the Lethal Injection Checklist - constitute regulations under SG 10-101(g) and, because they were not adopted in conformance with the requirements of the APA, are ineffective and may not be used until such time as they are properly adopted.
The Maryland ruling follows developments last week in California and Florida blocking the use of lethal injection [JURIST news archive] in those states.

A federal judge in California determined that California's lethal injection protocol creates "an undue and unnecessary risk" of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday ordered his administration to "correct court-identified deficiencies" [JURIST report] in the state's lethal injection protocol. Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended all executions [JURIST report] in the state after a botched execution took 34 minutes and appointed a commission to study Florida's lethal injections procedures [PDF text].

Last month, a judge in Kentucky ordered the state to hold public hearings [JURIST report] on changing the Kentucky's lethal injection protocol. Inmates in Missouri and South Dakota [JURIST reports] have also successfully challenged lethal injection methods. The Baltimore Sun has more.


 

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