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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Three Ohio death-row inmates ask Supreme Court to stay executions

Three death-row inmates in Ohio asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to stay their executions as they challenge the state's use of a lethal execution method that they say raises the risk of a painful death.

Ohio has not executed anyone since January 2014, when the state first used a lethal injection method that includes the sedative Midazolam. It took the inmate, Dennis McGuire, 25 minutes to die, and witnesses reported he had uttered loud sounds and gasped several times during the execution.

Attorneys for the inmates - who include a man convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter - argue the execution method raises the risk of causing pain so severe it violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment."

Tuesday's filing asked the Supreme Court to review a ruling last month by a 3-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. In the 2-1 decision, appeals court judges, reversing a lower court ruling, said the plaintiffs failed to prove the execution method "is sure or very likely to cause serious pain."

Use of Midazolam in executions has been blamed for unnecessary pain or struggles in Arkansas, Arizona and Virginia.

The January execution of convicted murder Ricky Gray in Virginia left him with blood in his lungs and other indications that he had struggled, an autopsy showed.

Some critics have called for a ban on the use of Midazolam in executions.

In their filing Tuesday, attorneys for the inmates argued the appeals court ruling violates the Constitution, contradicts Supreme Court precedent and "involves an issue of recurring and national importance."

Ronald Phillips is the 1st of the 3 inmates scheduled to be executed, on July 26, for the 1993 rape and killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron. Gary Otte's execution is scheduled to die Sept. 13 for a 1992 double murder in a Cleveland suburb, and Raymond Tibbetts' on Oct. 18 for a 1997 fatal stabbing in Cincinnati.

Source: Talk Media News, July 19, 2017


Ohio: Judge denies request for execution witnesses


A federal judge has denied a request by attorneys for Ohio death row inmates to allow extra witnesses of upcoming executions.

Attorneys want 2 "appropriately trained persons" such as a nurse anesthetist and a lawyer to ensure the execution is carried out in a constitutional manner.

The state is scheduled to resume executions July 26 after a more than 3-year delay while Ohio searched for new supplies of lethal drugs.

Judge Michael Merz rejected the request Tuesday. He said there's no evidence a nurse anesthetist would be able to evaluate an inmate's consciousness from the viewing room.

He also said the person would be perceived as biased coming from the inmate's legal team.

Source: Daily Journal, July 19, 2017

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