In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Nebraska's death penalty protocol

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers
LINCOLN, Neb. — A lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s death penalty protocol was dismissed by a Lancaster County district judge, on Friday.

The suit was filed by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers and Rev. Stephen Griffith and alleged that state officials approved a flawed lethal injection protocol without adequate public review and in violation of the state constitution's due process clause.

As part of the lawsuit, they asked the court to stop all executions until rules that follow the Nebraska Administrative Procedure Act and Nebraska’s Constitution were put in place.

District Judge Lori Maret said Chambers and Griffith lacked standing to challenge the current protocol, saying they are required to allege that the Revised Execution Protocol affects their rights or privileges. “[They] have not met this standard, and therefore lack standing,” she said.

Nebraska hasn't executed an inmate since 1997, but Attorney General Doug Peterson has asked the state Supreme Court to set an execution date of July 10 -- or sometime in mid-July -- for Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.

Source: 1011 Now, June 4, 2018

Judge dismisses Ernie Chambers' lawsuit over Nebraska's death penalty procedure

A Lancaster County district judge has dismissed a death penalty protocol challenge by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers and Rev. Stephen Griffith of Lincoln.

Chambers and Griffith filed the suit against the Department of Correctional Services and state officials, challenging that the state's execution protocol was developed without following state law and procedures.

They asked the court to stop any executions until a proper protocol is put in place that follows the state Administrative Procedure Act.  The protocol, revised in 2016 and finalized in 2017, outlines execution team duties and training requirements, and states the director will determine lethal injection drugs to be used and the process for obtaining them, and verification of the substances by a chemical analysis.

District Judge Lori Maret said that for a plaintiff to have standing to challenge the regulation, they must allege the revised protocol affects their legal rights. In this case, they have not done that, she said, and so they do not have standing to sue.

The court also did not buy the argument on exceptions to standing for illegal expenditures. Resident taxpayers may sue to stop illegal expenditures of public funds, and the plaintiffs said Nebraska will expend public funds to carry out the death penalty.

"The regulation in question, however, only replaced one version of the execution protocol with another," the judge wrote in the order.

The Nebraska Attorney General's office had argued that Griffith and Chambers lacked standing in the case because they aren't on death row.

The ACLU countered the Administrative Procedure Act requires materials be made publicly available in the Nebraska Secretary of State's office when it gives notice of the proposed protocol before adopting it. Death row prisoners cannot visit the Secretary of State's office to review those materials or attend the public hearing. That would mean nobody has standing to challenge execution protocol procedures, the ACLU said.

ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said Monday the organization was disappointed in the decision to dismiss an important case on procedural grounds.

"We will confer with our clients to determine how to proceed and will actively explore all options, including an appeal to ensure the Nebraska death penalty protocols were adopted in accordance with the law," Conrad said.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, June 5, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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