"Legal challenges of new Ohio execution drug likely," is by Andrew Welsh-Huggins of Associated Press. It's via the San Francisco Chronicle.
Ohio's imminent announcement of a new lethal injection drug is likely to be followed by legal challenges, if past experience in the state and across the country is any judge.
That same experience also suggests Ohio would likely prevail over the long term, but not before executions might be put on hold for a while.
The state is switching drugs because its supply of the drug used most recently in Ohio, the sedative pentobarbital, expired Monday. Additional supplies aren't available because the drug's manufacturer has put it off limits for use in executions.
Time and again, the state's introduction of a new drug or execution process "has given rise to new allegations and often new pleading" in death penalty cases, almost always followed by counterchallenges, federal judge Gregory Frost noted in August after the state said it would likely announce its new drug by Friday.
There's another option for securing pentobarbital, however, which involves pharmacists mixing individual doses for the state. Pharmacists aren't affected by the manufacturer's prohibition because they're mixing ingredients used to make the drug. Ohio has hinted it is leaning toward this method.
Assuming they have the equipment to mix the drug, and putting aside any moral qualms, pharmacists will have to think long and hard about the possible litigation they might face, said Ernest Boyd, executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association.
"When you look at the number of groups ready to have a phalanx of attorneys to attack, it's not going to be the same decision as, 'Do I make you a wart medicine?'" Boyd said.
Challenges help ensure the state is imposing the ultimate punishment responsibly, said Tim Young, head of the Ohio public defender's office.
"This is a justice system," Young said Tuesday. "This is not a revenge system. This is not an inflict-as-much-pain-as-you-can system."
Earlier coverage of Ohio lethal injection issues begins at the link.