"Bills filed on lethal injection, abortion, guns in church," is the title of John Lyon's report for the Arkansas News Bureau.
Measures to change the state’s lethal injection law, limit abortions and allow people to carry guns in church were among the bills filed on Thursday, the fourth day of the legislative session.
Senate Bill 73 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, would set forth specific procedures and chemicals for the state Department of Correction to use in carrying out executions. The state Supreme Court struck down the state’s lethal injection law last year, saying the Legislature “abdicated its responsibility” by giving the Department of Correction too much enforcement discretion in violation of the separation of powers doctrine.
Executions have been on hold in the state because of the ruling.
The Methods of Execution Act, which the Legislature approved in 2009, states that a death sentence is to be carried out by lethal injection using one or more chemicals “as determined in kind and amount in the discretion of the director of the Department of Correction.”
The law says the chemicals could be one or more ultra short-acting barbiturates; one or more chemical paralytic agents; potassium chloride; and “any other chemical or chemicals, including but not limited to, saline solution.” An attorney for prisoners who challenged the law argued last year that the law theoretically would allow any substance, even rat poison, to be used to execute prisoners.
SB73 would require the Department of Correction to use one or more of the following: sodium pentothal or sodium thiopental; pancuronium bromide; potassium chloride; or saline solution. It would remove the phrase “any other chemical or chemicals, including but not limited to,” which the high court said gave the Department of Correction too much discretion.
The bill also sets forth a step-by-step procedure for carrying out executions.
“All we’re hoping to do is clarify the law to make the Supreme Court comfortable with it so we can proceed with executions again in the state,” Hester said Thursday.
Today's Baton Rouge Advocate reports, "Killer’s attorney sues state as execution date nears." It's by Joe Gyan Jr. The article provides background on earlier lethal injection litigation in the state. Here's the beginning:
Attorneys for a DeSoto Parish man scheduled to be executed Feb. 13 for fatally scalding his 6-year-old stepson in 1992 are asking a Baton Rouge court to order state corrections officials to turn over records relating to Louisiana’s lethal injection procedures and protocols.
The New Orleans-based Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, which represents Christopher Sepulvado, also is seeking a preliminary injunction until the requested records are produced and all litigation challenging lethal injection has been resolved or terminated.
“It would probably have that effect,” CPCPL director Gary Clements said Thursday when asked in a telephone interview if the request for an injunction is essentially a request for a stay of execution.
In a lawsuit Clements filed Tuesday at the 19th Judicial District Court, he says the Louisiana Supreme Court is currently considering lethal injection litigation that involves Sepulvado and all other Louisiana death-row inmates.
“The State brought Mr. Sepulvado into ongoing lethal injection litigation, but it now seeks to execute him by the very method that is at issue in pending litigation of which he is a party,” CPCPL attorney Kathleen Kelly argues in the suit.
Clements contends in his suit that the Department of Public Safety and Corrections arbitrarily denied him access to a large majority of the records he requested Dec. 18, including records reflecting the country and company of origin for each of the lethal injection drugs currently in the department’s possession.