By SHEILA BURKE
The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday upheld the state's use of three drugs used for the lethal injection of people sentenced to death, saying the protocol was neither cruel nor inhumane.
The ruling, which stemmed from an appeal by condemned inmate Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, 55, did not address whether death by injection was constitutional � the state's highest court has already said that it is.
Rather, the latest decision focused on whether the drug combination adequately safeguards against unnecessary physical and psychological suffering.
Opponents of the injection protocol had argued that one of the drugs merely paralyzes the individual and masks all signs of pain and suffering. They also argued that Tennessee law forbids animals from being euthanized with the chemical, as does the American Veterinary Medical Association.
"If it doesn't meet your community standards for putting animals to sleep, even a wild dog, then it should not meet our community standards for executing a human being," said Bradley MacLean, one of Abdur'Rahman's lawyers.
But the court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice E. Riley Anderson said: "There was no evidence in the record that the procedures followed under the lethal injection protocol have resulted in the problems feared by" Abdur'Rahman.
Tennessee has carried out a single lethal injection when it executed Robert Glen Coe in 2000 and there were "no significant difficulties with the process," the court said. Coe was the first person to be executed in the state in 40 years. "Likewise, there was no evidence of problems occurring in the more than 30 other states or federal jurisdictions that have used the same or similar protocol on many occasions," Anderson wrote.
The opinion upheld a decision by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle and the Court of Appeals.
Tennessee uses a three-step chemical process in an execution. The first is the use of an anesthetic, known by the generic name sodium thiopental, that puts an inmate to sleep. The second is the use of Pavulon, a drug forbidden in animal euthanasia, which paralyzes the muscle system. A third drug, potassium chloride, stops the heart.
Abdur'Rahman's lawyers had argued that if the anesthesia wears off or is not administered correctly, the inmate given Pavulon will still feel intense pain but will not be able to show it because his muscles are paralyzed.
The opinion, however, cited testimony of state medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy, who said that the dose used to anesthetize the inmates would alone cause immediate unconsciousness and eventually death. There was conflicting medical testimony on both sides.
MacLean said he was considering appealing yesterday's opinion. In the meantime, his client is awaiting a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether prosecutorial misconduct in the case can be considered before the court.
Abdur'Rahman, formerly known as James Lee Jones, was sentenced to death for the 1986 Nashville murder of Patrick Daniels. He and another man blinded Daniels and Norma Norman. Abdur'Rahman repeatedly stabbed Daniels in the chest while he pleaded for his life. He stabbed Norman several times in the back, but she survived.
According to TDCJ's website (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/drowfacts.htm)
quote:Uh, the argument did NOT work in Tennessee.
Yeah, I guess it would have helped if I had read the opinion more throughly. grrr
In talking about lethal injection-Has anyone ever noticed that they sterilize the injection site with alcohol rubs before they give the injection. We don't want to introduce infection into a corpse.
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.