"Court gives Arizona warning about execution protocol,"is the AP report via the Arizona Republic. The ruling in Towery, Moormann v. Brewer is available in Adobe .pdf format. Here's an extended excerpt from the AP article:
A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday issued a strong warning to Arizona officials who have continuously violated and changed their own written protocol for executing state death-row inmates.
In its ruling on Tuesday, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco turned down a request to delay two upcoming executions -- that of Robert Henry Moormann on Wednesday and of Robert Charles Towery eight days later on March 8.
While the judges declined to delay the executions, they wrote that Arizona has forced the court "to engage in serious constitutional questions and complicated factual issues in the waning hours before executions."
"This approach cannot continue," the panel wrote. "We are mindful of the admonition requiring us to refrain from micro-managing each individual execution, but the admonition has a breaking point."
And unless Arizona officials make permanent changes, the judges wrote that the court might have to start monitoring each individual execution in the state to make sure the law is followed.
The ruling comes after the state Department of Corrections unexpectedly changed its execution protocol last month, one of multiple unannounced changes in recent years.
Defense attorneys argued to the court that the new protocol loosened requirements for those who inject inmates with the lethal drugs and gave far too much discretion to corrections Director Charles Ryan.
According to the new protocol, Ryan can decide with which and how many drugs to execute inmates and must give the inmates' one week's notice of what he decided.
But on Monday, less than 48 hours before Moormann's scheduled Wednesday execution, corrections staff realized that one of the drugs they had planned to use expired last month and is no longer available.
They then notified Moormann and his attorneys that he would be executed with just one drug, pentobarbital.
The late notice violates the department's new written execution protocol.
ASU Cronkite News posts, "Federal court panels refuse to block two looming Arizona executions," by Dustin Volz.
Separate panels of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals released a flurry of opinions this week rejecting appeals by death-row inmates Robert Henry Moormann and Robert Charles Towery.
Moormann, 63, is currently scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m. Wednesday for the 1984 murder and dismemberment of his adoptive mother while on a three-day furlough from prison.
Towery, 47, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection March 8 for the 1991 robbery and murder of a Valley man.
Their attorneys were pursuing last-minute appeals Tuesday night, including appeals to the full 9th Circuit court and, possibly for Moormann, an emergency stay of execution appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The latest AP update on the Moormann case is, "Arizona death-row inmate set to be executed today."
If Moormann's execution proceeds, it will be the first time the state executes an inmate using a one-drug method, as opposed to its long-standing three-drug protocol. The switch was made after corrections officials realized Monday that one of the three drugs had expired.
Arizona would join Ohio, Texas and several other states that last year made the switch to pentobarbital after the only U.S. manufacturer of the execution drug sodium thiopental said it would discontinue production.
In July, the only U.S.-licensed manufacturer of pentobarbital announced it would put the drug off-limits for executions. And a company that bought the pentobarbital line in December is required to also keep it from use by prisons for executions.
Once states use up their current supplies of pentobarbital, executions could be delayed across the country as they look for yet another alternative.
Another Arizona inmate, Robert Charles Towery, is set to be executed on March 8 for killing a man while robbing his home in 1991.
Earlier coverage of Arizona lethal injection issues begins at the link.