Cheryl Pilate, an attorney for Russell Bucklew, has released the following statement:
“We are extremely pleased and relieved that the United States Supreme Court has granted Mr. Bucklew's Application for Stay of Execution and is permitting the appeal in the Eighth Circuit to go forward. What this means is that the appeals court will hear Mr. Bucklew's claims under the Eighth Amendment that he faced a great likelihood of a prolonged and tortuous execution because of the unique and severe medical condition that causes vascular tumors to grow in his head and throat.p/>“As a panel of the Eighth Circuit recognized, Mr. Bucklew presented strong medical evidence -- that the Missouri Department of Corrections failed to contest -- showing the likelihood of unnecessary pain and suffering beyond what is constitutionally permissible. Today's stay of execution will give the lower federal courts time to consider Mr. Bucklew's claim that his execution would violate his rights under the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. As the doctors who reviewed Mr. Bucklew's records indicated in sworn statements, more up-to-date medical information and diagnoses are needed to fully understand the degree of pain that Mr. Bucklew would experience during an execution.”
"U.S. Supreme Court halts planned execution of Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew," is the AP report by Jim Salter and Jim Suhr, via the Kansas City Star.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday halted the execution of a Missouri inmate with a rare medical condition who challenged the state's refusal to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug.
The justices said a lower federal court needs to take another look at the case of Russell Bucklew, whose execution would have been the nation's first since last month's botched execution in Oklahoma. Bucklew had been scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for the 1996 killing of a man during a violent crime spree, but Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito blocked the execution late Tuesday to give the full court time to consider the matter.
By law, Missouri has a 24-hour window to carry out a scheduled execution, and the ruling from the full Supreme Court Wednesday evening meant the state Supreme Court would have to set a new execution date if Missouri is to carry out the punishment.
"Supreme Court Halts Missouri Execution and Sends Case Back to Appeals Court," by John Eligon for the New York Times.
The United States Supreme Court indefinitely halted the execution of a Missouri man on Wednesday and sent his case back to a federal appellate court to hear his appeal.
The decision to stay the death sentence of the man, Russell Bucklew, 46, who argued that he would suffer great pain if he were killed by a lethal injection because of his rare vascular disease and objected to the drugs that would be used, could indicate a growing cautiousness among the justices in the wake of recent executions that went awry. It was a departure from the court’s usual refusal to stop executions at the last minute in cases where such objections were raised.
The court did not give a reason for granting the stay, but left it up to the appellate court to determine whether to hold a hearing on Mr. Bucklew’s case. Either way, it meant that Missouri would not be able to go forward with the execution on Wednesday night as it had wanted to.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, "Supreme Court puts execution of Missouri man on hold," by Jeremy Kohler.
The U.S. Supreme Court stayed on Wednesday the execution of murderer Russell Bucklew, whose attorneys had argued that the lethal injection put him at risk of an excruciating death because he suffers from a rare vascular condition.
Bucklew will not be executed any time soon, as the death warrant issued by the Missouri Supreme Court was good for Wednesday only.
The court did not address the claims made by Bucklew’s attorneys that he could be harmed in the execution because of his condition.
A one-paragraph order by the high court said the appeal would remain pending in the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis. It was not immediately clear how the appeal would proceed, as the same court had denied a stay on Tuesday without comment.
"Supreme Court sends Missouri execution case back to appeals court," by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Seth Klamahn at the Los Angeles Times.
Bucklew's death warrant expires at midnight in Missouri, but state officials called off the execution after the Supreme Court issued its order about 6 p.m. Witnesses were not told how soon to return, just that it would not be soon, a state witness told the Los Angeles Times.
A spokesman for the Missouri attorney general's office said no further litigation was expected Wednesday.
Bucklew's attorneys had argued that state officials failed to demonstrate they could humanely execute the inmate, who suffers from a chronic, lifelong illness, cavernous hemangioma, which causes tumors in his head, neck and throat that can easily rupture and bleed.
His attorneys also questioned why Missouri officials refused to disclose information about lethal-injection procedures.
Missouri is among several states that changed lethal-injection drugs and suppliers as manufacturers pulled back in the face of international protests. Now they and some other states rely on a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, made by compounding pharmacies not subject to Food and Drug Administration oversight.
"Justices halt Missouri execution after Alito intervenes; case is sent back to lower courts," by Robert Barnes and Mark Berman in the Washingotn Post.
In an unsigned opinion with no reported dissents, the justices sent the case back to lower courts for further consideration and left open whether there was a need for an evidentiary hearing. The three-sentence order gave no reason.
The action puts on hold what would have been the first execution since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month raised new questions about the procedure.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. late Tuesday night had temporarily stopped the execution of 46-year-old Russell Bucklew just before it was set to proceed. Missouri’s 24-hour warrant authorizing the execution was scheduled to expire at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
The Guardian posts, "US supreme court grants stay of execution to Russell Bucklew," by Ed Pilkington.
The delay will allow his lawyers to appeal to a lower federal court on grounds that he was in danger of being subjected to a lengthy and tortuous death.
The stay, granted by the nine justices of the supreme court, brings to an end for now a tumultuous 24 hours in which Bucklew's execution has been switched on and off numerous times through various stages of legal challenge. His lawyer Cheryl Pilate welcomed the news, saying that she was pleased and relieved by the stay.
Earlier coverage from Missouri begins with the preceding post.