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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

U.S. Supreme Court could revisit ruling on controversial Oklahoma execution protocol

A controversial death penalty case in Oklahoma is back in the national spotlight.

The U.S. Supreme Court could revisit a ruling involving Richard Glossip.

You may remember, his attorneys challenged the use of a certain lethal injection drug used in our state.

The new developments are stemming from a big case in Arkansas.

Attorneys for 9 death row inmates challenged Arkansas's execution protocol, and when their state supreme court upheld it, the justices cited the ruling in the Richard Glossip case.

"The Glossip case has resulted in an unmitigated disaster in Oklahoma," attorneys representing the Arkansas death row inmates wrote in a recent court filing.

Now, those attorneys are taking a possible loophole in the Glossip case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"They challenged the execution method by saying for example, a person can be put to death by firing squad. Apparently, the Arkansas Supreme Court said that may be true, but that's not a method that's authorized by law here in Arkansas," criminal defense attorney David Smith said.

Legal experts say the U.S. Supreme Court left some things unanswered in the Glossip case.

Richard Glossip's attorneys challenged the constitutionality of Midazolam, the sedative used in Oklahoma's executions.

"The Supreme Court says you have to identify another method of execution that's available and feasible, it's known and attainable, but they don't say whether it has to be something authorized by state law of that state," Smith said.

In Oklahoma, there are only 3 drugs authorized for use in executions.

Last year, officials discovered a wrong drug was about to be used on Richard Glossip, and Gov. Fallin issued a last-minute stay.

That was months after that same wrong drug was actually used in the execution of Charles Warner.

For now, it's up in the air whether a new ruling could affect future Oklahoma executions, but legal experts say more clarity in the Glossip ruling is critical.

"It's kind of a splitting of a hair, but it's a pretty important hair," Smith said.

The executions for those Arkansas inmates are on hold right now.

Their attorney told NewsChannel 4 that he will file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court soon.

He has 90 days.

Richard Glossip's attorney told Newschannel 4 he's hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case.

Source: KFOR news, July 22, 2016


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