Friday, 1 June 2007
Appeals court declines to hear lawsuit over lethal injection
CINCINNATI - A federal appeals court on Friday declined to review how long death row inmates have to file appeals that challenge of Ohio's use of lethal injection to carry out executions.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals led stand an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that said an inmate's appeal was filed too late.
The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by Richard Cooey, who was sentenced to die for raping and killing two University of Akron students in 1986. It did not seek to reverse Cooey's conviction or sentence but argued the state's use of lethal injection is inhumane.
The latest ruling is not expected to have an immediate effect on executions in Ohio. The Ohio Public Defender's office said it will now seek an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We believe these issues are strong enough to merit the U.S. Supreme Court's time and attention," said Greg Meyers, the chief counsel to the Ohio Public Defender.
Meyers said an appeal would be filed as soon as possible.
Cooey's lawsuit has since been joined by several other death row inmates.
If the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a challenge to the statue of limitations in filing appeals, it would open the door to an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the inmates' claim that Ohio's method of lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment that amounts to torture.
The Ohio attorney general's office contends that Cooey did not file his motion within the two-year statute of limitations. Defense attorneys argued that the state miscalculated the start date for triggering an appeal.