Tennessee to delay lethal injection review pending Supreme Court decision

[JURIST] Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen [official website] said Thursday that the state will wait until the US Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of lethal injections before modifying the state's execution protocols in accordance with a September federal court ruling [JURIST report]. Though Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper plans to appeal the September court decision which struck down already revised lethal injection protocols as unconstitutional because they do not ensure that prisoners are properly anesthetized before they receive a lethal injection, Bredesen noted that he expected that the appeals court would likely wait until the Supreme Court hands down a decision in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket] before deciding the Tennessee case. Bredesen said it would be "inappropriate" to try and modify Tennesse's lethal injection procedure while the Supreme Court case is still pending.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in the Baze case in September and will consider whether lethal injection [JURIST news archive] constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. At issue is the three-drug mixture [DPIC backgrounder] of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart used in Kentucky and over 30 other states. Opponents of the method claim that it does not contain enough anesthetic to relieve pain. AP has more.



 

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