The New York Times Taking Note blog posts, "Are Georgia’s Lethal-Injection Practices Constitutional?" It's by Jesse Wegman.
Warren Hill has been given at least a few more days to live. Following a hearing on Monday afternoon, Judge Gail S. Tusan of the Superior Court in Fulton County, Ga., issued a temporary stay of execution to allow argument over whether Georgia’s refusal to reveal its methods and sources for procuring lethal-injection drugs violates Mr. Hill’s due process rights.
The parties are due back in court on Thursday, July 18, at 8 a.m. Mr. Hill’s execution has been re-scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening.This is a new development in a case that seemed until late last week to be about one issue only—whether the Supreme Court would stop the execution of a man with an I.Q. of 70 whom experts have unanimously deemed intellectually disabled. In 2002, the court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that people with severe intellectual disabilities may not be executed.
"Fulton judge stays Warren Hill’s execution," is the expanded Atlanta Journal-Constitution report by Rhonda Cook and Bill Rankin.
Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan issued the stay — the third Hill has been granted over the past year — just four hours before his execution was to be carried out at 7 p.m.
“For the court and the public, it is a big issue,” Tusan said of the state’s capital punishment procedure. She scheduled another hearing for Thursday after state attorneys told her the warrant that orders Hill’s execution expires on Saturday at noon.
When Hill’s execution was set, the state Department of Corrections had no lethal-injection drugs in supply. But the agency recently provided Hill’s lawyers with redacted records about a contract it had just signed with a pharmacy to compound drugs specifically for executions.
During Monday’s hearing, Graham said that on July 10 the pharmacy compounded the drug for Hill’s execution and then had it independently tested. On Saturday, Corrections received the drug, which expires on Aug. 8, Graham said.
The state Attorney General’s Office also released a document from an independent laboratory that tested the compounded drug. The one-page document says a July 10 test found that the compounded drug is pure pentobarbital, although the names of the lab that tested the drug and the person who vouched for its results were redacted.
AP coverage is, "Fulton County judge stays execution," by Christina A. Cassidy. It's via the Augusta Chronicle.
The lawsuit filed Friday focuses on a state law that recently took effect that prohibits the release of identifying information about any person or company participating in an execution. Supporters of the law have said it’s necessary to protect participants from retaliation and could help the state obtain drugs from companies or pharmacies that might not want people to know they are involved in executions.
Nationally, it has become increasingly difficult for states to obtain a lethal injection drug because the manufacturer has said it doesn’t want it used in executions.
Last July, Hill’s execution was put on hold as his attorneys challenged a plan by the state to change from a three-drug process to a single lethal dose of pentobarbital. The state previously used pentobarbital to sedate inmates before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze them and then potassium chloride to stop their hearts. The Georgia Supreme Court later sided with the state and cleared the way for the execution.
But then the state’s supply of the drug expired in March. The Department of Corrections used a compounding pharmacy to obtain pentobarbital for Hill’s scheduled execution Monday. The name of the pharmacy was not released, nor was the name of the physician who wrote the prescription for the drug.
Compounding pharmacies custom-mix small batches of a drug for specific clients. They’ve come under scrutiny after a deadly meningitis outbreak was linked to contaminated injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. The FDA considers compounding pharmacy products unapproved drugs and does not verify their safety or effectiveness.
The Guardian posts, "Georgia inmate Warren Hill granted last-minute stay of execution," by Ed Pilkington, reoirtubg from New York.
The Georgia state courts will now reconsider his case on Thursday. Should the judges decide that the execution can be put back on schedule, it is possible that by the end of this week Hill will be faced with his fourth brush with the death chamber in the space of a year.
Brian Kammer, Hill's lawyer, said he was relieved the stay had been issued just three hours before the execution was due to have taken place. "At this time, there is far too much we do not know about how the state intends to proceed in this, the most extreme act a government can take against a citizen," he said.
The decision to postpone the execution by just three days temporarily gets the US supreme court off the hook. Hill's legal team had appealed to the nine justices to intervene on the grounds that the same court prohibited executions for "mentally retarded" prisoners – as called in US jurisprudence – in 2002.
"Court stays execution of Georgia convict," at CNN.
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins at the link.Mental retardation is now generally referred to as a developmental or intellectual disability. Because it has a specific meaning with respect to capital cases, I continue to use the older term on the website.