Ohio's Second Execution of Romell Broom Stayed for 30 Days by Federal Judge - How Do You Think He'll Rule?
Death Row inmate Romell Broom was setting in the courtroom this week as his attorneys stood ready for an evidentiary hearing that would take a couple of days in front of Federal District Judge Gregory Frost. Romell Broom sat there, ready to testify. Think of it -- Broom left his small Death Row cell to set in that public courtroom, look out at all those faces and tell about the pain and suffering he experienced on that gurney as his executioners spent over two hours trying to find a vein in which a needle could be inserted. We've posted about this earlier - including the media reports that Broom was "sobbing in pain" that day. The hearing was based upon Broom's motion. Romell Broom is seeking to stop his scheduled execution by Ohio by arguing that it is unconstitutional for the State of Ohio to try and kill him a second time after its horrific failure to execute him earlier this year by lethal injection. Judge Frost doesn't hold a evidentiary hearing Surprising some, Judge Frost took the bench and soon thereafter advised everyone that he wouldn't be hearing testimony in the Broom matter. Nope. According to Judge Frost, he's really able to decide only a narrow question of the law. No fact-finding is needed, so no testimony would be taken. Attorneys were asked to file their arguments addressing the issue, and the Judge would rule based upon the paper. Judge Frost did give everyone a big hint -- he's stated that he doesn't see how Broom can circumvent the decision made by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and denied review by the United States Supreme Court earlier this week in the Biros case. Ken Biros died as a guinea pig to the new Ohio single-drug injection method. What is Judge Frost Going to Decide? All that Judge Frost is going to answer is the limited question of whether or not the State of Ohio, after it has failed to execute an inmate, has the right under law to try again. And while it is critical to consider the pain and suffering that Romell Broom experienced on that gurney that day, Frost is saying that he's not hearing anything on pain because of the federal appellate court ruling Monday in Kenneth Biros's case. On Monday, Biros unsuccessfully argued that the method of execution Ohio would be using hadn't been vetted and Ohio couldn't show that the execution method couldn't cause severe pain. Severe pain during an execution violates the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment of the U.S. Constitution. The appellate court specifically stated that Biros had provided no evidence on pain. Arguing about the pain that might occur during an untested method of execution seems easily distinguishable from an argument concerning the two bites at the apple situation facing Broom. Yet Judge Frost is moving forward without any evidence on pain -- there was no evidence on pain in the Biros appellate record and he's prohibiting having Romell Broom take the stand in the present case. Given this factual vacuum and the precedent of Louisiana v. Resweber, 329 US 459 (1946), where the failure of an electric chair during an initial execution did not prevent the second execution from proceeding, what Judge Frost is going to rule probably isn't that hard to predict regardless of whether your perspective is based upon double jeopardy, due process, or cruel and unusual punishment.