That's the title of Kevin O' Hanlon's report on the Arkansas lethal injection ruling for the Lincoln Journal Star.
A Friday ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court striking down that state's execution law could affect Nebraska's use of the death penalty.
The court, in a split decision, agreed with 10 death row inmates who said the Arkansas constitution says only its Legislature can set execution policy, an authority state lawmakers gave its Correction Department in 2009.
Nebraska death-row inmate Michael Ryan makes the same argument in an appeal pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court. He says Nebraska lawmakers were wrong in 2009 to give the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services the authority to set the state’s lethal injection protocol when use of the electric chair was abolished.
And while the Arkansas ruling has no direct bearing on Nebraska, it shows the argument -- which Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning's office has called frivolous -- has merit.
In the Arkansas court's majority opinion, Justice Jim Gunter wrote: "It is evident to this court that the Legislature has abdicated its responsibility and passed to the executive branch, in this case the (Arkansas Department of Correction), the unfettered discretion to determine all protocol and procedures, most notably the chemicals to be used, for a state execution."
In the Nebraska case, Richardson County District Judge Daniel Bryan Jr. did not address the question as to whether Nebraska's death-penalty law violates the state Constitution; the case was thrown out on procedural grounds.
Ryan's lawyer, Jerry Soucie of the Nebraska Commission of Public Advocacy, is asking the Nebraska high court to send the case back to Bryan to rule on that question, among other things.
Soucie also argues that Ryan was sentenced to die in the electric chair, which the state no longer uses. Nebraska switched to lethal injection after a state Supreme Court ruling that the chair was unconstitutional and cruel and unusual punishment. At the time, Nebraska was the only state with electrocution as its sole means of execution.
In his order, Bryan said courts have jurisdiction in such cases only if "a prisoner under sentence asserts facts that claim a right to be released on grounds that there was a denial or infringement of state or federal constitutional rights that would render the judgment or conviction void or voidable.
Related posts are in the lethal injection index.