All this morning, there have been almost minute by minute updates on the web regarding whether or not the appellate attorneys feverishly fighting to stop this morning’s execution of Kenneth Biros by the State of Ohio will be successful. Biros’ attorneys are literally banging on the doors of the United States Supreme Court, asking that
Today, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling that no one is going to be executed in the State of Kentucky until things are done by the book regarding the lethal injection killing method. The high court set no deadline on when capital punishment might resume in Kentucky, either. Its formal opinion is already published…
Last week, the State of Ohio announced that it was changing its method of execution from a lethal injection involving three drugs (sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride) to a single injection of the drug sodium thiopental.
Ohio changes to a single-drug form of execution after its failed execution…
Romell Broom was sentenced to die for the rape and murder of Tryna Middleton by the State of Ohio and last Tuesday, Mr. Broom was strapped to a gurney and his execution by lethal injection began.
The 2+ Hour Failed Execution
Except they couldn’t find a vein in which to insert the needle. They tried…
The news has been filled this week with the questioning of the Latina who may well be our next U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and some may be wondering why all the hoopla. Well, let’s look back to 1972, where one single justice’s vote successfully halted capital punishment in this country for four years.
There was a time in the mid-twentieth century when this country had essentially suspended the death penalty. It didn’t last long.
First, in 1972, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Furman v. Georgia, opening the doors for capital punishment to be an accepted form of punishment should a state seek to…
Today, in part two of our three part series: the three drugs that make up the Florida execution cocktail are discussed in detail. Again, much of the language used here can be seen in any number of defensive motions filed in capital punishment matters across the state today.
1. Thipental Sodium – the First Drug to be Administered
Thiopental sodium is the first drug to be administered during an execution by lethal injection in Florida. As a general anesthetic, thiopental sodium poses special risks because it is so short-lasting that for any number of reasons it can cease to operate as sufficient anesthesia long before the other drugs cause the death of the condemned. Think about that.
It stops working within minutes.
In an affidavit submitted during litigation in Tennessee, Dr. Dennis Geiser, the chairman of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee, swore under oath that:
the dosage of thiopental sodium must be measured with some degree of precision, and the administration of the proper amount of the dosage will depend on the concentration of the drug and the size and condition of the subject. Additionally, the drug must be administered properly so that the full amount of the dosage will directly enter the subject’s blood stream at the proper rate. If the dosage is not correct, or if the drug is not properly administered, then it will not adequately anaesthetize the subject, and the subject may experience the untoward effects of the neuromuscular blocking agent . [Further], under Thiopental Sodium the anesthetic effect is extremely short-lived, and will be effective for surgical restraint and anesthesia for a period of only five to seven minutes.
Affidavit of Dr. Dennis Geiser, in the case of Abu-Ali Abdul Rahman v. Bell, 226 F.3d 696 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. granted on other grounds, 535 U.S. 1016, cert dismissed as improvidently granted, 537 U.S. 88 (2002), on remand on other grounds, ___F.3d___, 2004 WL 2847749 (6th Cir. Dec. 13, 2004) (en banc) (emphasis supplied).
It actually heightens sensitivity to pain.
Drug manufacturers warn that without careful medical supervision of dosage and administration, barbiturates like thiopental sodium can cause paradoxical excitement and can actually heighten sensitivity to pain. See Physicians Desk Reference, 50th Ed. 1996 at 438-440. Manufacturers warn against administration by intravenous injection (hereinafter AIV) unless a patient is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Id. Thus, there are serious problems with the first drug, the anesthetic, actually operating to anesthetize the person being executed sufficiently or for long enough to prevent suffering caused by the subsequent two drugs. Denno, supra, at 95-98.
Continue Reading In-Depth Look at the Law: Does the Florida Death Penalty by Lethal Injection Violate the Constitution? (Part 2)