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USA | It Is Time to End the Lethal Injection Mess

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On June 23, amidst all furor over its gun rights and abortion decisions, the Supreme Court handed down a little noticed death penalty decision, Nance v Ward . In that case, a five-Justice majority ruled that death row inmates could file suits using 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, a federal law that authorizes citizens to sue in federal court for the deprivation of rights, to bring suit alleging that an execution method violated the Eighth Amendment. Michael Nance, who was sentenced to death in 2002, will now be able to proceed with his suit contesting Georgia’s plan to execute him by lethal injection. Nance suffers from medical conditions that have compromised his veins. To use lethal injection, the only execution method now authorized by state law, prison authorities would have to “cut his neck” to establish an intravenous execution line. He also claims that his long-time use of a drug for back pain would diminish the effect of the sedative used in Georgia’s drug cocktail. Nance alleges that

Alabama to appeal judge’s ruling blocking death row inmate’s execution

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall indicated he would appeal a federal judge’s ruling effectively blocking the scheduled execution of death row inmate Matthew Reeves later this month.

Marshall filed a notice of appeal of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Austin Huffaker’s issuing of a preliminary injunction preventing the Selma man’s execution by any method other than nitrogen gas.

Alabama has not developed protocols for executing inmates via nitrogen gas, and did not expect to have protocols for at least a few months, meaning the state would not be able to execute Reeves on Jan. 27.

Huffaker found Reeves, who was sentenced to death for the 1996 robbery-murder of 38-year-old Willie Johnson, Jr., in Selma, is likely to prevail on the merits of his case against the state.

Reeves, 43, who claims to be intellectually disabled, argues in his lawsuit against Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm and others that the state did not accommodate his disability when it gave him a form asking him to choose whether he wanted to die by nitrogen gas or another method.

Reeves claims his IQ is in the upper 60s and lower 70s, which meant he could not read or comprehend the form the state gave him.

Reeves and 2 others from Selma, including his brother, were convicted of capital murder in the robbery-slaying of 38-year-old Willie Johnson, Jr. in the city in 1996.

Johnson was a public housing employee from Selma who towed Reeves’ broken-down car.

“In payment for this act of kindness, Reeves murdered Johnson, stole his money, and mocked his dying spasms,” U.S. Supreme Court justices wrote in their majority opinion in July upholding an appeals court’s ruling rejecting Reeves’ claim that he had ineffective counsel.

Johnson’s body was found inside his truck on Thanksgiving morning 1996.

Marshall indicated he would appeal Huffaker’s decision to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which set oral arguments in the appeal for Jan. 21.

Reeves’ brother, Julius Reeves, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer. 

A third defendant, Brenda Scuttles, is incarcerated in the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka after being sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Source: al.com, Staff, January 13, 2022


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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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