CALL 205.538.3340

The Law Office of J.D. Lloyd Logo

AfterTheTrial.com... Because There’s Hope After the Trial

BLOG

After The Trial Blog

The After The Trial blog presents insights on ongoing and recent trials around the state of Alabama, including weekly criminal law round-ups.

Alabama's Lethal Injection Survives Another Challenge

J.D. Lloyd - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

 

 

Today, the United States Supreme Court denied an Alabama death-row inmate’s request to review the constitutionality of Alabama’s three-drug execution protocol. Tommy Arthur argued that Alabama’s lethal injection cocktail violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” because the method risks severe and unnecessary pain and suffering. The Court’s refusal to review the protocol almost certainly means that Tommy Arthur, who has been on death row for more than 30 years, will likely be executed soon. It also likely means that defendants who hope to challenge Alabama’s method of execution face a massive uphill battle in future fights.

 

Since lethal injection became the preferred method of execution in the 1980s, almost all states have used a three-drug cocktail to carry out the execution. The first drug administered would be a large amount of a sedative that’s supposed to knock the inmate unconscious and suppress all sensation. The second drug would be a paralytic, which would stop all muscular-skeletal movements, including the diaphragm. The final drug would cause the heart to stop.

 

Until recently, the first drug used in the three-drug protocol was either sodium thiopental. The manufacturer discontinued production of that drug, so states turned to pentobarbital. That drug also became unavailable in 2013. The states then turned to midazolam, the drug at the heart of recent Eighth Amendment litigation.

 

According to experts, midazolam doesn’t have the anesthetic effect of thiopental or pentobarbital. This is important because the second and third drugs administered in the the lethal injection process are extremely painful. Reports describe the pain from these drugs as a searing, burning pain spreading from the injection site throughout the body. Again, they literally stop your breathing and your heart. So, without a strong sedative, an inmate is likely facing an excruciating (and often prolonged) execution.

 

Executions using midazolam have been awful. Defendants executed with the drug in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alabama died slowly and, apparently, very painfully when midazolam has been the first drug administered. (Justice Sotomayor’s dissent below details these executions.)

 

In challenging a method of execution as unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, a defendant must show a readily available constitutional alternative. Here, Arthur argued that there was a constitutional alternative to lethal injection in Alabama: the firing squad. The lower federal courts rejected this claim because Alabama law doesn’t specifically provide for death-by-firing-squad. Because Arthur couldn’t prove a constitutional alternative, the court wouldn’t review his claim that the cocktail using midazolam was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

 

Justice Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent from the the Court’s refusal to consider this case. The dissent pointed out that Alabama recently amended its laws to allow for the execution of a defendant by “any constitutional method of execution.” See 15-18-82.1(c). Justice Sotomayor argued that Arthur met his burden of showing a constitutional alternative, even if that alternative wasn’t on the books in Alabama.

 

The dissent here was largely a critique on the lethal-injection protocol itself and the Court’s refusal to consider how screwed up our Eighth Amendment jurisprudence has become when a defendant can show that a method of execution causes unnecessary (and unconstitutional) pain and suffering, but can still be executed with that method because a State doesn’t have another method of execution on the books.

 

Read Sotomayor’s dissent here.

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.


 

 


Recent Posts


Tags

decatur alabama ex parte briseno Donald Trump, brady v maryland springville alabama mount olive alabama maryland court of special appeals car accident Easter alfonso morris brian fredick lucas jerry bohannon alabama criminal law roundup pell city alabama court systems, foley alabama gun rights heflin alabama Jefferson County Alabama criminal justice Guy Terrell Junior eric sterling christian guitierez lamar county russell calhoun Malone v State aiding and abetting drug possession, domestic violence Tommy Arthur Alonzo Ephraim abuse cherokee county alabama Tracie Todd campbell v state hanceville alabama Samuel Alito death penalty, tarrant alabama § 13A-3-23(d) immunity hearing sheffield v state Neil Gorsuch operation bullseye ring v arizona baltimore city circuit court boaz alabama calhoun county alabama abandonment gadsden alabama Ingmire v State marion county shooting pinson alabama bailey v us terell corey mcmullin legende v state limestone county alabama baldwin county alabama Stephen Breyer Fentanyl 28 U.S.C. § 2254 battles v state state of alabama lauderdale county alabama moore v texas illegal gambling pruitt v state st clair county alabama betton v state forced isolation adger alabama keith v state dora alabama alabama supreme court Joshua Reese asia mcclain robberies benjamin todd acton moving violations Eutaw Alabama animal cruelty theft brendan dassey, steve avery, making a murderer, scotus, netflix domestic abuse Rule 32 smith v state homicide constitutional violations peyton pruitt implied consent heritage christian university brookside alabama 2016 election, home repair fraud hoover alabama parole court of criminal appeal releases fraud rainbow city alabama Xavier Beasley levins v state mulga alabama Thomas Hardiman mccalla alabama warrior alabama Hillary Clinton, department of justice, Benn v State utah v strieff social media tuscaloosa alabama homicide rate cullman alabama armed robbery concealed carry drug crimes alabama law enforcement agency ferguson missouri debit card skimming scams avondale alabama death penalty hall v florida aziz sayyed shoplifting public assistance fraud prostitution sting south carolina bernard v north dakota Justice Sotomayor scotus Etowah County Alabama, state of arizona church robberies negligent homicide Wesley Adam Whitworth underage drinking court of criminal appeals npr beylund v north dakota Glaze v State dekalb county alabama hurst v florida kidnapping drug busts fairfield alabama, nicholas hawkins self defense fourth amendment burglary lethal injection drug smuggling operation crackdown habeas corpus relief illegal gun carry john earle redfearn IV v state breaking and entering Pleasant Grove Alabama huntsville alabama birchfield v north dakota West Alabama § 13A-3-23 mcwilliams v dunn Adamsville alabama capital murder florence alabama morris alabama texas pelham alabama netflix mobile alabama fraudulent checks Briarwood Presbyterian Church road rage assault constitutional law, fort payne alabama sixth amendment blountsville alabama eugene lee jones v state huntsville steve avery stoves v state eighth amendment, shooting death fultondale alabama banville v state sexual assault Alabaster alabama trussville alabama apprendi v new jersey Gardendale Alabama attempted murder sarah koenig drug seizure ake v oklahoma stanley brent chapman the mannequin challenge LWOP kenneth eugene billups William Pryor greene county alabama street racing mike gilotti CCA update Kareem Dacar Gaymon executions sentencing law and policy blog summaries identity theft bomb threat economic growth midazolam minor offenses madison alabama editorial criminal justice reform, crime of passion eleventh circuit ruling gun control anniston alabama, albertville alabama embezzlement capital offenses capital punishment blount county alabama montgomery alabama warrantless blood draws kimberly alabama brendan dassey department of justice Shonda Walker, theft of property oneonta alabama dothan alabama Lucky D Arcade bessemer alabama narcotics investigation lethal injection drugs talladega superspeedway birmingham alabama Dylann Roof second amendment drug trafficking, criminal mischief nathan woods murder utah supreme court fake kidnapping, OJ Simpson Made in America judicial override arson strickland v washington OJ Simpson debtor prison shelby county hoax destructive devices Mike Hubbard New York Times endangerment of a child abduction adnan syed, serial US Supreme Court Update Woods v State Walker County Alabama Sardis Alabama Marengo County Alabama towles v state morgan county alabama felony assaults clarence thomas drug activity edwards v arizona making a murderer hurst mandamus alabama christmas shooting SCOTUS, mountain brook alabama unlawful manufacturing Kay Ivey

Archive

DISCLAIMER

These recoveries and testimonials are not an indication of future results. Every case is different, and regardless of what friends, family, or other individuals may say about what a case is worth, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances as they apply to the law. The valuation of a case depends on the facts, the injuries, the jurisdiction, the venue, the witnesses, the parties, and the testimony, among  other factors. Furthermore, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

Get Free Legal Advice  Contact us for a complimentary legal consultation

I am interested in scheduling a free legal consultation and receiving additional information.

Submitting Form...

The server encountered an error.

Thank you, your  entry has been  received.

© 2017 The Law Office of J.D. Lloyd, LLC. All Rights Reserved. |

 

As required by Rule 7.2(e), Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.