Saturday, 24 February 2007

Class action status given to Del. death row inmates—

Class action status given to Del. death row inmates-

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A federal judge granted class action status today to all state inmates facing the death penalty, including them in a suit charging lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

The decision puts all executions on hold, but Delaware had not scheduled one since a May 2006 stay of execution for convicted ax murder Robert Jackson. That stay now applies to the other 15 inmates facing execution.

The May ruling had effectively blocked further executions because the defense for any condemned inmate would need only to join the suit to stop it from being carried out.

The state had opposed class action status, arguing attorneys were able to contact each death row inmate to get them to join the lawsuit.

A September bench trial is scheduled before Chief Judge Sue Robinson, who ruled today that it made more sense to grant case class action status to conserve court resources and guarantee a consistent outcome for all inmates.

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