"Appeals court to hear arguments against lethal-injection drug," is by Michael Doyle for McClatchy News Service. It's via the Washington Post. The case is being heard by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Daniel Wayne Cook sexually assaulted, tortured and killed two men, a jury agreed. He’s dead now, executed this past August in an Arizona prison.
But Cook’s name lives on, as part of a lawsuit challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s allowing importation of a drug used in executions by injection.
Death-row inmates in several states are carrying on the challenge first filed under Cook’s name, though of course none will be present Monday when a top appellate court debates the case that’s one of many attacking lethal injection.
The inmates argue that the FDA acted improperly in 2010 when it allowed some state prison systems to import foreign-made sodium thiopental for use in executing prisoners. Though states have since been substituting other drugs for the fast-acting sedative, the legal challenge continues, with the potential to reach even beyond the death-penalty realm.
“This case is not about halting executions, but about ensuring that illegal drugs are not used in carrying out otherwise legal executions,” attorney Eric A. Shumsky, who represents the death-row inmates, said Friday.
Last year, a Washington-based federal judge ruled that the FDA should not have permitted importation of a drug not approved for domestic use. In response, California officials denounced the ruling as “contrary to law,” and federal officials contended that they were acting with appropriate administrative leeway.
“FDA exercises enforcement discretion in the context of drug importation in a range of circumstances, a practice that has repeatedly been brought to Congress’s attention,” Justice Department attorneys said in a legal brief.
Earlier coverage of the FDA's involvement in the importation of lethal injection drugs begins at the link; also available, coverage of the 2012 federal district court ruling in Beaty v. FDA.