The updated AP coverage is, "Ga. judge halts Hill execution; state to appeal," by Christina A. Cassidy, via the Rome News-Tribune.
Condemned inmate Warren Lee Hill scored a legal victory Thursday, although it remains to be seen whether his scheduled execution will be delayed indefinitely as his attorneys challenge the constitutionality of a new law barring the release of certain information about Georgia's supply of lethal injection drugs.
Hill, 53, has been scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday for the 1990 killing of a fellow inmate. He has come within hours of being executed three times in recent years, and it's likely that another last-minute legal decision will determine his fate.
>On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan granted Hill's request for an injunction halting Friday's execution to further consider the case. Attorneys for the state said they planned an immediate appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. The state's high court is expected to decide Friday whether to overturn Tusan's ruling or leave the injunction in place blocking the execution.
"Frankly, because the execution is still scheduled for 7 o'clock and there's going to be litigation in the (Georgia) Supreme Court, we don't know how that is going to go yet," said Hill's attorney Brian Kammer. "I'm sure Mr. Hill knows there is still an execution scheduled for tomorrow."
Attorneys for the state declined comment on Tusan's ruling, other than to say they planned to appeal.
Reuters posts, "Georgia judge extends execution stay, allows challenge to secrecy law," by David Beasley.
A Georgia judge indefinitely extended a stay of execution on Thursday for condemned killer Warren Lee Hill that will allow him to challenge a new law shielding the identity and methods of the company that makes the state's lethal injection drugs.
State attorneys will ask the Georgia Supreme Court to lift the stay and allow the execution to proceed on Friday evening. If the stay is lifted, Hill could become the first Georgia prisoner executed with drugs obtained in secret.
If the court declines to act, Hill's punishment could be delayed for months while the law is challenged. That could similarly affect other executions in the state, defense attorney Brian Kammer told Reuters.
"High court may be last hope for 'mentally retarded' man," is by Richard Wolf at USA Today. It focuses on the intellectual disability issue, rather than the state'slethal injection secrecy law, under which the stay was granted.
The 52-year-old prisoner's case has galvanized the nation's disability community. The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities filed a lengthy brief last week urging the court to stay Hill's execution, citing experts' determinations that he is, indeed, mildly "retarded."
The broader question is whether Hill can be judged mentally retarded. In 2000, state and defense experts differed on that question. Since then, the state's experts who said he was not have changed their minds.
Even so, under a 1996 federal law intended to speed up the lengthy death row appeals process, Hill cannot try again to avoid the death penalty in the lower courts. His only option is to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Georgia court blocks Warren Hill execution as state acquires new drugs," is the Guardian report written by Ed Pilkington.
The death penalty in Georgia has been thrown into disarray after a court blocked the upcoming execution of Warren Hill and castigated the state for passing a new secrecy law hiding the identity of the pharmacists who have supplied the lethal injection drugs needed to kill him.
The ruling leaves the Georgia corrections department in a state of legal paralysis. Shortly before judge Gail Tusan of Fulton County superior court issued her ruling, the state prison service confirmed to the Guardian that it had successfully acquired sufficient supplies of the sedative pentobarbital to kill Hill on Friday evening.
The source is likely to have been a compounding pharmacist, most probably in another state, who improvised a stock of pentobarbital on behalf of the corrections department. But the public is not allowed to know the location or identity of the outlet because the new Georgia law renders such information a "state secret".
The law was passed as a way of by-passing a growing international boycott of the use of pharmaceuticals in executions. The boycott has cut off major supply routes inside America, across Europe and around the world, leaving states such as Georgia with dwindling or expired drug stocks.
The judge ruled that by withholding from Warren Hill crucial details about the source and nature of the drugs that were to be used to execute him, the state was causing him "irreparable harm". According to an Atlanta-based reporter Max Blau who tweeted from court, the judge added that the new law "unconstitutionally limits" the condemned man's access to legal redress as it prevented him from acquiring the information needed to mount an appeal under the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Creative Loafing Atlanta posts, "Judge extends Warren Hill's stay of execution during lethal injection hearing, execution still set for tomorrow," by Max Blau. He live-Tweeted coverage of yesterday's hearing.
Tusan ruled that the Georgia law constitutionally limited Hill's access to the court to defend his Eighth Amendment rights to not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment. Given the lack of information available to Hill and his attorneys, the judge said the inmate faced potential "irreparable harm" and needed more information to properly decide his case.
State lawmakers passed the legislation creating the statute back in March as a tacked-on amendment to House Bill 122, which primarily deals with the state's Sexual Offender Registration Review Board. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law in May and went into effective on July 1.
Earlier this spring, Georgia came close to running out of lethal-injection drugs. State lawmakers passed the law to protect companies that provide the state with pentobarbital needed for lethal injections from potential pressure and harassment from anti-death penalty activists.
The state Department of Corrections obtained lethal-injection drugs for Hill's execution from a compounding pharmacy - which in the past week has been a major source of contention and discrepancy regarding the compounded drug's lack of approval from the Federal Drug Administration.
Georgia Public Broadcasting coverage is, "Judge Stays Warren Lee Hill’s Execution," by Claire Simms.
Attorney Brian Kammer has been representing Hill for almost 17 years. He argued the new law could violate Hill’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment because it restricted Hill’s right to research any potential side effects of the pentobarbital. Kammer questioned the safety of the drug because it was purchased from a compounding pharmacy
“It’s not even necessarily about pentobarbital,” Kammer said after the hearing. “Where are the ingredients coming from? Who is compounding the drug? All we know is it’s a compounding pharmacy out of state. That does not inspire confidence.”
Judge Tusan decided that argument had merit.
“Here in the court’s mind neither the plaintiff nor the general public has sufficient information with which to measure the safety of the drug that would be used to execute Mr. Hill as there is insufficient information regarding how it was compounded,” Tusan read to the court from her ruling.
The ruling gets international exposure through AFP, "Execution of mentally disabled US man postponed, again."
The execution of a US inmate diagnosed as "mentally retarded" was indefinitely delayed Thursday, as a judge considers a complaint over what the defense calls the "extreme secrecy" surrounding the drugs to be used.
The execution of Warren Hill, 52, had already been postponed once this week, after a judge granted a last-minute stay on Monday. Prison authorities had rescheduled it for Friday.
But Fulton county judge Gail Tusan said Hill would not be put to death until she could give a final decision on whether a recent Georgia law limiting disclosures of where it obtains a drug used for lethal injections violated his constitutional rights.
In her decision, she wrote that the eighth amendment to the constitution, banning "cruel and unusual punishment," means an inmate has the right to know the details of how he or she will be put to death and that the method will not "cause serious illness and needless suffering."
Today's Macon Telegraph publishes the OpEd, "Will the state do the ‘right thing’?" It's by Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah.
There are many extenuating circumstances surrounding Hill’s pending execution, including an unanswered appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the outcome of a hearing scheduled for Friday, on the pentobarbital drug.
While the outcome of that hearing may force the state to further delay Hill’s execution, I still hope that our state government can be persuaded to grant Hill a new trial, for the right reason. I believe that the church has a responsibility to try to convince the state to do the right thing.
"Warren Lee Hill and the Ghosts of Death Penalty Past, Present and Future," is by Dr Bharat Malkani of the University of Birmingham. It's at Huffington Post.
The Lethal Injection Secrecy Act prevents the media, the public and even the courts from knowing who makes, and how they make, the drugs that are used in lethal injections. The Act was passed because, in recent years, anti-death penalty activists from the United Kingdom have identified the suppliers of drugs, and have persuaded these pharmaceutical companies to stop supplying these drugs for use in executions. By keeping the identities of drug suppliers a secret, Georgia is hoping that these suppliers will not be dissuaded or prevented from making and providing the drugs needed for lethal injections.
Hill's argument is essentially that this level of secrecy means that there is no way of knowing that the drugs are medically sound -- they could be being cooked up by literally anybody. Indeed, in 2010 and 2011, Georgia tried to use drugs that were obtained from a "pharmacy" that was operating out of a driving school in London. On inspection, the drugs turned out to be illegally obtained, expired, and sub-potent. Without any oversight of where the drugs are coming from, there is no way of knowing that they will actually work. Even if they do work, there is no way of knowing that they won't cause excruciating pain until it's too late. (Of course, some readers will no doubt think that Hill deserves to suffer excruciating pain -- but that's not the point. The law forbids punishments that cause excessive pain, and thus Hill's argument is a legal one rather than a moral one.)
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins at the link.