There are some pretty tough death penalty defense lawyers over in Ohio and they are really showing there stuff right now, charging out of the gate here at the beginning of the new year with strong challenges to Ohio’s practice of capital punishment.

Recap – Death Penalty in Ohio for the Past Six Months

As you’ll recall from our earlier discussion, Ohio patted itself on the back last month when it became the first state in the union to execute a man using the single drug lethal injection method.  On December 8, 2009, Kenneth Biros died after state executioners essentially injected a large amount of anesthesia into his veins.  And, if that reminds you of the procedure they use to "put down" beloved pets at the vet’s office, it should.  It’s the same thing – massive anesthesia has been used for years to euthenize dogs and cats. 

Ohio opted for a single drug injection method instead of halting executions in the state after its notoriously horrific attempt at executing Romell Broom in September 2009.  Broom lay strapped to the Death Gurney for over two hours, sobbing (witnesses testified to this), as Ohio executioners tried to kill him with injection needles that were incapable of insertion.  Somehow, these trained personnel were not able to insert a needle into Mr. Broom in order to inject the toxins so he would die.  Finally, the execution was aborted and Mr. Broom returned to his cell. 

Of course, cries of unconstitutionality in the Broom execution immediately rang out, a temporary stay was granted, and his case taken to the courts.  However, that’s not all that is happening in Ohio today.

Attorneys representing several Death Row inmates have filed arguments with the courts, challenging the procedures that the State of Ohio uses in its manner of execution.  This is a next-door challenge to the actual lethal injection of drugs itself, and it’s a powerful challenge given the facts that are coming to light.

For example, just last Friday lawyers for Romell Broom (Timothy Sweeney and Adele Shank) filed arguments in federal court against the constitutionality of Broom’s death sentence, based in part on the inadequate training of his executors. 

Crux of Broom’s Argument: Team Member 21

One of the men that tried to find Broom’s veins that day had a past employment history in the medical field as a licensed EMT (emergency medical technician), but he hadn’t worked in that capacity for years.  Who knows how long it had been since he’d last tried to insert a needle into a human arm.  The Death Chamber wasn’t the place for him to practice his atrophied nursing skills.  Add to that fact this one: he wasn’t given any training by the Prison before trying to kill Broom on September 15th. 

Furthermore, this guy didn’t bother to attend the rehearsals (yes, they rehearse the execution).  Labelled "Team Member 21" in the court filings, he was one of two men responsible for carrying out the capital punishment that day on Romell Broom. 

Even dogs and cats get a trained professional to assist them when they’re euthanised.  How Ohio is not hanging its head in shame over this entire situation is amazing…. 

We send wishes for good luck as well as our prayers to our capital defense bretheren in Ohio for victory in this long, hard fight.