AG: Court will decide if state executions resume

The U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting arguments that lethal injection is unconstitutional won't result in executions in Nevada anytime soon.

For one thing, Nevada's Supreme Court issued a stay of all executions in October pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Kentucky case.

Deputy Director of Corrections Greg Smith said there are no inmates close to an execution date except William Castillo, whose execution was stayed last October pending the outcome in the Kentucky case.

He said there are 84 inmates on Nevada's death row.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said she doesn't intend to ask the Nevada court to lift the state's stay on executions at this point. Her staff is reviewing the federal opinion, which was issued Wednesday.

She said the opinion appears to be "right on point" as to the arguments about the administration of the three different drugs used to execute inmates in Nevada and that she intends to file a copy of that opinion with the Nevada court.

"We always felt there were adequate protocols in place," she said of Nevada's system.

But she said the American Civil Liberties Union may have raised other issues in its Nevada case that were not addressed by the decision in the federal case.

"We're just filing this opinion. This supports our argument. We'll let the court decide what to do with it," she said. "But we're still reviewing I think (whether) other arguments were made in the ACLU brief."

The Nevada stay on executions, issued Nov. 15, 2007, halted the execution of Castillo, 35, just an hour before he was scheduled to die.

He would have been the 13th Nevada inmate to die since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty. The first was Jesse Bishop in 1979, who was the last Nevada inmate put to death in the gas chamber.

The state adopted lethal injection in 1983, which has since been used 11 times.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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