Florida public broadcasting station WJCT-FM/TV posts, "Federal Judges Critical Of State Transparency Regarding New Lethal Injection Drug," by Cyd Hoskinson.
A pair of federal judges called the state to task Wednesday for its lack of transparency regarding the drugs Florida uses for executions by lethal injection.
At a hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, attorneys for four death row inmates challenged the state’s substitution of one of the drugs in Florida’s three-drug execution protocol.
The attorneys asked to go ahead with a lawsuit claiming the use of midazolam hydrochloride is unconstitutional because it could cause unnecessary suffering.
Judges Marcia Howard and Timothy Corrigan took issue with the plaintiffs’ lack of evidence and they gave their attorney, Maria de Liberato, 60 days to find an expert and refile the challenge.
De Liberato argued that it’s hard to make a case without the information they need from the state.
"They’ve consistently refused to provide any transparency whatsoever in the choosing of the drugs and where they’re getting them from and why they continue to use a three-drug protocol,” she said.
The judges noted the alleged lack of transparency and they criticized the state for refusing all public records requests for information about the drug.
"Federal judges dismiss challenge to lethal injection in Florida," is AP coverage by Derek Kinner. It's via the Tampa Tribune.
Two federal judges threw out challenges from seven Florida death row inmates on Wednesday arguing that the state’s use of a new lethal injection drug constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, but said the decision was based on legal technicalities.
U.S. District Court Judges Marcia Morales Howard and Timothy J. Corrigan said that the lawsuits are “not trivial,” as a state assistant attorney general asserted, and gave the inmates and their lawyers 60 days to file new complaints. The state Attorney General’s Office will then have 30 days to respond.
The lawsuit stems from the state’s recent change of its execution protocol to include the sedative midazolam hydrochloride, instead of the previously used pentobarbital.
“Midazolam is not intended for use as an anesthetic,” the lawsuit said, adding that it is typically used to sedate patients before anesthesia is administered. “Its use in this context is wholly untested.”
The seven inmates are challenging the new procedure in U.S. District Courts in Jacksonville, Ocala, Tampa and Orlando. The inmates had earlier sued to stop the previous lethal injection drug mix and filed amended complaints to reflect the new procedures. They now will have to file more amended complaints.
The ruling will not affect the scheduled execution of Darious Kimbrough next week because he is not one of the inmates appealing the new protocol, said attorney Maria DeLiberato, one of the attorneys representing the seven inmates.
Earlier coverage of Florida lethal injection issues begins at the link.