Robert Lee McConnell was set to die on February 1st at the hand of executioners for the state of Nevada, until yesterday when a federal court intervened, granting his motion to stay. It’s the second time that Mr. McConnell has faced that last walk — he was previously set to be executed back in 2005.
Today, they filed an appeal with the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court, to try and stop the execution of John Richard Marek. With the Florida Supreme Court ruling that it will not hear…
Around twenty years ago, a cop was gunned down in Savannah and Troy Davis was caught and convicted for the crime. Nineteen years old at the time, he was sentenced to die, and he has watched all this time pass – 1989 to today – from a small, bleak Death Row cell over in Georgia.…
I have real concerns about the constitutionality of the current means of capital punishment here in Florida – and really, in most of the country today. And it’s not just me – many Death Penalty Qualified Defense attorneys here in Florida share the same concern regarding execution by lethal injection.
There is a strong argument that execution by lethal injection violates both the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. In the next series of scholarly posts that appear here on the blog every Friday, we’ll be looking at this issue.
The State and Federal Constitutions forbid foreseeable and unnecessary pain in the execution of an individual.
Much of the language that you will be seeing here is language that commonly appears in motions filed by counsel representing defendants who have been sentenced to death by the State of Florida. It’s a solid and sturdy argument against the use of lethal injection, and there are many attorneys, legal scholars, professors, sociologists, and other professionals, who stand on this position:
Both the Florida and the U.S. Constitutions forbid the infliction of unnecessary pain — that is, any pain that could reasonably be avoided — in the execution of a sentence of death. The courts have ruled that the infliction of a severe punishment by the state cannot comport with human dignity when it is unnecessary and nothing more than the pointless infliction of suffering. Furthermore, [p]unishments are held to be cruel when they involve . . . a lingering death. In re Kemmler, 136 U.S. 436, 447 (1890); see also Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 125 S.Ct. 2117, 2122,158 L.Ed. 2d 924 (2004).
A punishment is particularly constitutionally offensive – and therefore, illegal — if it involves the foreseeable infliction of suffering. Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 273 (1973). Such things as (1) the probable length of time the condemned remains conscious of the process; (2) the physical or psychological pain he or she suffers during this period; and (3) the time it takes for death to occur must all be taken into consideration in determining whether a means of execution violates the constitution. See Fierro v. Gomez, 865 F. Supp. 1387, 1413 (N.D. Cal. 1994), aff’d, 77 F.3d 301, 308 (9th Cir. 1996), vacated on other grounds, 519 U.S. 918 (1996).
Continue Reading In-Depth Look at the Law: Does the Florida Death Penalty by Lethal Injection Violate the Constitution?