Federal judge issues stay on death penalty in Ohio

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] ordered a temporary moratorium [order, PDF] on executions in Ohio on Wednesday. The stay is intended to allow attorneys time to complete discovery and other legal preparations pertaining to Ohio's new execution protocol [AP report], which would increase the dosages of drugs used for lethal injection. Ohio uses a two-drug combination [AP report] of sedatives and painkillers, injected simultaneously. The stay will expire on August 15, 2014.

The prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire has stirred controversy [JURIST report] over new drugs used to administer lethal injections. The children of McGuire, a convicted murderer, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in January over the method used in McGuire's 26-minute long execution, which they say amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Earlier that month, McGuire's attorneys filed for a stay of execution [JURIST report], claiming that the untried execution method would cause McGuire to experience a suffocation-like syndrome known as air hunger. The court refused to halt the execution [JURIST report], finding that the evidence presented failed to prove a substantial risk of severe pain. Several states that employ capital punishment have been seeking alternative lethal injection compounds after the EU barred [JURIST report] German and Danish drugmakers from selling sodium thiopental, a commonly used lethal injection compounds, to US prisons in 2011. In July the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FDA policy that allowed the importation of the compound was illegal [JURIST report].

 

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