Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Court Allows Hearings On Constitutionality Of Lethal Injection

Last Update: 11:32 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A judge can hold hearings on the constitutionality of Ohio's lethal injection procedures, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a case that could determine the fate of the state's process for executing condemned inmates.

The court ruled 5-2 that Judge James Burge of Lorain County Common Pleas Court has the authority to hold the hearings and to order the state to turn over documents related to the execution process.

The court without comment rejected the state's argument that Burge, as the presiding judge of a criminal trial, cannot decide the constitutionality of death penalty law.

Burge ordered the hearings in the case of Ruben Rivera, charged in the 2004 shooting death of Manuel Garcia. Rivera asked Burge to drop the death penalty aspects of his case on the grounds that the state's lethal injection process amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

Wednesday's decision clears the way for Burge to consider Rivera's request. More significantly, it means the broader issue of the constitutionality of injection could end up before the state Supreme Court, since Burge's conclusion will likely be appealed regardless of how he rules.

Burge said he was gratified by the court's ruling. Attorney General Marc Dann is disappointed with the decision, said spokesman Ted Hart.

The decision means the state can no longer hide the process it uses for putting inmates to death, said Jeffrey Gamso, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Rivera.


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1 comment:

Jeffery Wright said...

Life in prison with its daily exposure to rape, brutality and confinement is not only truly cruel, but it is also very unusual punishment. The gentle, sterile injection of lethal drugs is the merciful, easy way out.