Saturday, 29 December 2007

Judge unseals execution documents

ELYRIA (AP) — A judge unsealed a 632-page binder on how the state executes death row inmates, revealing everything from qualifications of execution team members to how the warden signals for the lethal injection drugs to be administered.

The state turned over the binder two weeks ago to Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who on Jan. 8 will consider whether lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

Those documents, originally sealed by Burge at the request of the state, were released Thursday following a public records request from The (Elyria) Chronicle-Telegram and a letter from the newspaper's attorney.

The state has been reluctant to say anything about who serves on the 16-member execution team and, particularly, the medical training received by the three members who prepare an inmate's veins and inject the drugs.

The documents show that at least one medical team member is certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists' Board of Registry. That organization handles certifications for numerous jobs in pathology and laboratory work, including hematologists, phlebotomists and those who work in blood banks, according to the society's Web site.

The injection of the drugs begins after the warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility buttons his jacket as he stands over the condemned inmate strapped to the execution table, the documents say.

Ruben Rivera and Ronald McCloud, who could receive death sentences if convicted in two separate Lorain County murders, are challenging the procedure, saying the drugs don't give the quick and painless deaths required by Ohio law.

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