U.S. SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR CHALLENGE TO OKLAHOMA'S LETHAL INJECTIONS
UPDATE (1/28): The Supreme Court has granted stays of execution for the three petitioners in Glossip v. Gross while it considers their challenge to Oklahoma’s execution procedure.
On Jan. 23, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Glossip v. Gross (No. 14-7955), a case in which inmates facing execution in Oklahoma raised objections to the state's continuing use of drugs that were involved in botched executions in 2014. Four Justices had voted earlier to grant a stay for Charles Warner, who was originally part of the case that the Supreme Court agreed to hear, but was executed on Jan. 15. Justice Sotomayor, writing for the dissent, said:
"I am deeply troubled by this evidence suggesting that midazolam cannot constitutionally be used as the first drug in a three-drug lethal injection protocol....The questions before us are especially important now, given States’ increasing reliance on new and scientifically untested methods of execution. Petitioners have committed horrific crimes, and should be punished. But the Eighth Amendment guarantees that no one should be subjected to an execution that causes searing, unnecessary pain before death."
(Warner v. Gross, No. 14A761 (Jan. 15, 2015) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting)).
Florida executed Johnny Kormondy also on Jan. 15, using the same drugs. See Lethal Injections.
UPCOMING GEORGIA EXECUTION RAISES CONCERNS
UPDATE: (1/27) Hill was executed after the Supreme Court denied a stay and the state denied clemency.
The U.S. Delegation of the European Union has written to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles requesting commutation for Warren Hill, an inmate with intellectual disabilities scheduled for execution on Jan. 27. The Pardons Board will hold a hearing on Jan. 26. Hill's attorneys have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution. President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter have called for a commutation of Mr. Hill's death sentence to life without parole. Additionally, the American Bar Association, the Georgia NAACP state chapter, the ACLU, and the Council of Europe have all called for the execution to be stayed. See also Prof. John Blume's (Cornell Law) op-ed in the National Journal (Jan. 22).
MARYLAND'S GOVERNOR COMMUTES SENTENCES OF FOUR REMAINING DEATH ROW INMATES
On January 20, outgoing Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland reduced the death sentences of four inmates to life without parole. Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013 for future offenses, leaving the sentences of those already on death row in place. Connecticut and New Mexico also left inmates on death row after abolishing capital punishment.
DPIC'S 2014 YEAR END REPORT
Click to learn more about DPIC's 2014 Year End Report
DPIC Podcast Series: We have begun a new set of podcasts on the death penalty in each state, each with interesting historical facts. The following are now available: Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, and Vermont. Check out our podcasts now! Also listen to DPIC's podcasts on death penalty issues.