"Judge to hear challenge to lethal injection," is the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake report written by Tom Lotshaw.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana on Wednesday will argue before Lewis and Clark District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock that the state’s lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional and inadequate and needs to be reformed.
The petition was filed in 2008 on behalf of Ron Smith, a Canadian who was convicted in 1983 for kidnapping and murdering two Blackfeet cousins in Flathead County.
Seeking summary judgment, the petition argues that Montana’s lethal injection protocol fails to provide adequate safeguards to ensure that executions are carried out in a humane manner, as required by the U.S. Constitution and Montana Constitution; is overly vague; does not require adequate medical training or experience for executioners; and fails to comply with state law.
“This is an issue that the court is going to have to take a very close look at, to see if the new protocol, recently adopted, provides the safeguards that need to be set forth and expressed,” said Ron Waterman, one of two Helena attorneys representing Smith.
“I would say [the state’s] argument is it’s good enough. Ours is that it is not.”
Waterman said he plans to argue that Montana statute requires the use of “ultra fast-acting barbiturates” and that none of the drugs listed in the state’s lethal injection protocol satisfy that definition.
Montana statute also calls for a two-drug lethal injection process, but the state’s lethal injection protocol calls for three drugs, Waterman and the ACLU argue in a press statement.
A federal court also has recently ruled that the public has a right to know the names and qualifications of executioners, but Montana statute says that information shall remain private, Waterman said.
“Even though we haven’t raised that issue except for a very minor footnote, that’s another problem out there that goes to both Montana statute as well as the protocol,” Waterman said.