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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Future Of Ohio's Death Penalty Hangs On Legality Of Midazolam

In 2014, Dennis McGuire of Montgomery County was executed. The process did not go as planned.

Witnesses reported McGuire struggled against his restraints and made choking noises before finally dying after 26 minutes, an unusually long time for that process.

No executions have happened in Ohio since, and the state has been caught in a protracted legal battle over which drugs can be used in executions.

The latest chapter in that battle happened last week in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The court heard arguments from the state and from Mark Haddad, a lawyer representing three death row inmates.

A previous injunction from a lower court judge, halting the state's execution process, questioned the use of the drug midazolam. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court upheld the injunction.

But in light of one judge's vehement dissent and an urging from Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine's office, the full bench of the Sixth Circuit Court agreed to void the panel's decision and take up the case.

Doug Berman, professor at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, says that the question at the heart of the case has a lot of historical precedent.

"Whether it's firing squad, hanging, electrocution, guillotine ... though it's possible to make that painless, it seems like there's a chance if done improperly that there would be excruciating pain in the execution process," Berman says. "Lethal injection emerged and was adopted by every state including Ohio because of the belief, the hope, the desire to have a method that would be painless in carrying out a death sentence."

Whether midazolam ensures a painless death, though, is up for debate. Haddad argues that midazolam puts the prisoners at risk of cruel and unusual punishment, and the state could return to using a single overdose of pentobarbital.

Ohio is not the only one struggling with the legality of midazolam. Arkansas has also faced legal setbacks, including one in April from the U.S. Supreme Court, to carrying out its own executions.

And that means this case could have nationwide implications.

Source: radio.wosu.org, Clare Rothe, June 22, 2017


Man Sentenced to Death Penalty in Girlfriend's Ohio Slaying


An Illinois man convicted of abducting his estranged girlfriend from Kentucky and killing her along an Ohio interstate has been sentenced to receive the death penalty.

A judge in southwest Ohio's Warren County sentenced Brookport, Illinois, resident Terry Froman on Thursday. 

The judge followed the recommendation of jurors who this month found Froman guilty of aggravated murder and kidnapping in the September 2014 slaying of Kimberly Thomas.

A message left at Froman's attorney's office hasn't been returned.

Froman's attorney said during the trial evidence would show "mitigating factors."

Prosecutors say Froman became vengeful when Thomas ordered him out of her Mayfield, Kentucky, home. They say Froman abducted Thomas from Kentucky after fatally shooting Thomas' 17-year-old son, Michael E. Mohney.

Froman faces charges in Kentucky for Mohney's death.

Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2017

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