The Nebraska Supreme Court ruling in State v. Ryan is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Supreme Court rejects Michael Ryan death penalty challenge," is by Lori Pilger of the Lincoln Journal Star.
The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday rejected death row inmate Michael Ryan's challenge over how the state obtained one of the drugs it intended to use to carry out his sentence.
On his behalf, attorneys with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy alleged, among other issues raised, that the state illegally obtained stolen thiopental.
But in the end, the high court didn't wade into the dispute over how the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services got the hard-to-get drug that is key to carrying out lethal injection.
Instead, the court found that a post-conviction relief motion was not the proper way to raise the issues, all but one of which dealt with how Ryan's sentence would be carried out and not the sentence itself.
It is believed the batch of thiopental at question since has expired. At oral arguments in February, an assistant attorney general representing the state said he didn't know if the state currently has a supply of sodium thiopental to carry out lethal injection.
The Omaha World-Herald reports, "High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder," by Joe Duggan.
In an opinion released Friday, the high court upheld the decision of Richardson County District Judge Daniel Bryan, who dismissed Ryan’s motion for postconviction relief. The decision marks the fifth time Ryan has lost an appeal seeking to overturn his death sentence.
Ryan raised five issues in his latest appeal, including the state’s purchase of a lethal injection drug allegedly stolen by a third-party broker. He also challenged the legality of changing the death penalty from electrocution to lethal injection, which was approved in 2009 by the Nebraska Legislature.
Bryan ruled that Ryan’s claims involved the method of execution, which cannot be decided in post-conviction appeals. The district judge found that Ryan was not challenging his underlying conviction or sentence, only the means to carry out the sentence.
The Supreme Court largely agreed with the district judge in upholding his decision.
“By simply altering its method of execution, the state can go forward with the sentence,” Judge William Connolly wrote for the court.
Earlier coverage from Nebraska begins at the link.