Today's Omaha World-Herald reports, "Nebraska lacks drug for lethal injections, has no way to carry out executions." It's by Joe Duggan.
Nebraska prison officials have not replaced a lethal injection drug that expired late last year, meaning the state currently has no way to carry out an execution.
A prison spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that the state has yet to obtain a new supply of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs needed for lethal injection in Nebraska.
Questions about the drug came up Tuesday during oral arguments on a death penalty appeal by former cult leader Michael W. Ryan.
Nebraska Supreme Court Judge William Connolly asked if the state has a legal source of sodium thiopental. Assistant Attorney General James Smith said he did not know because he had not checked on the status of the drug before the hearing.
The administrative code that governs the execution protocol says expired lethal substances must be cleared from inventory and replaced by the State Department of Correctional Services.
Attorney General Jon Bruning has said the state needs to move to a less specific drug protocol to provide the flexibility to carry out an execution. He also said several weeks ago that the Corrections Department can change the protocol administratively.
Gov. Dave Heineman said last month that corrections officials were working on the issue.
'High court hears arguments over execution challenges," is the Lincoln Journal Star coverage by Kevin O'Hanlon.
A case that started as a challenge of how prison officials obtained a key lethal injection drug morphed Tuesday into a discussion before the state Supreme Court of the proper venue in which to challenge Nebraska's method of execution.
Rob Kortus of the Nebraska Commission of Public Advocacy, who is representing death-row inmate Michael Ryan, originally asked the court to review how state corrections officials got a lethal injection drug made by a Swiss company.
Nebraska and several other states that use sodium thiopental as part of their execution protocol were forced to buy the drug overseas when the last U.S. manufacturer quit making it in 2010 because of death-penalty opposition from customers.
Sodium thiopental recently has been banned for export by the European Union and is becoming increasingly difficult to get. It is made in India and China, but defense lawyers have questioned the quality.
Kortus also had questioned the quality of the drug Nebraska had, which was purchased through a middleman. But the state's two batches of sodium thiopental have since expired, and the state has none on hand.
That caused some of the high court judges to steer the arguments to whether state courts should be able to rule on the legality of the state's method of execution instead of forcing defendants to file federal court actions.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit ruled last year that the sodium thiopental acquired by Nebraska and several other states for use in executions should not have been allowed into the country.
Earlier coverage from Nebraska begins at the link.