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U.S. To Continue Executions Through Transition In Break

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The Justice Department is proceeding with plans for more federal executions in the closing days of President Trump's administration, including two scheduled shortly before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Attorney General William Barr announced the moves, connected with what he called "staggeringly brutal murders," in a statement late Friday. The Justice Department said the directives amounted to a continuation of its policy since last year when it relaunched federal executions after an informal moratorium that had been in place for 17 years. If the Justice Department plan moves forward, 13 people will have faced death by lethal injection during the Trump administration. Legal experts who follow capital punishment said that would be the most since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served 12 years in office before his death in 1945. RELATED |  U.S.: Barr's Justice Department Prepares To End Trump's Term With an Execution Spree Robert Du

U.S. judge issues order staying execution of Orlando Hall; federal prosecutors ordered to file any motion to vacate stay

A federal judge on Thursday halted the U.S. Justice Department's plan to execute Orlando Hall, an African American, by lethal injection in the evening, after an appeals court this week found the government's death penalty protocol violates federal law.

"The court is deeply concerned that the government intends to proceed with a method of execution that this court and the Court of Appeals have found violates federal law," U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her opinion.

Chutkan's ruling came after a federal appeals court issued a divided opinion on Wednesday which found that the Justice Department had violated the law by executing people using the drug pentobarbital without a prescription.

The appeals court declined, however, to stay Hall's execution at that time.

The federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the lower court's ruling.

Hall, 49, is the subject of three separate legal battles to delay his execution, in what would be the eighth one carried out this year under the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus.

Chutkan's ruling is expected to be appealed by the government.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has issued an order directing federal prosecutors to file any motion to vacate the district court's order staying  Orlando Hall's execution by 6:45 p.m. Eastern. 

If he is executed, Hall would become the 2nd African American to die by lethal injection in recent months.

He was convicted by an all-white jury for his role in the 1994 kidnapping, rape and murder of the 16-year-old sister of two Texas drug dealers whom he suspected had stolen money from him. 

Source: Reuters, Staff, November 19, 2020


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