Nevada high court gets flurry of filings in execution case
August 14, 2018
LAS VEGAS — Two drugmakers asked the Nevada Supreme Court on Monday to let a state court judge hear arguments before justices take up an appeal about whether the state can use their products for an execution.
The companies "and the citizens of Nevada have a substantial interest in knowing how the state intends to carry out the process of killing a human being under a death warrant," said Hikma Pharmaceuticals US, a maker of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl that has been blamed for overdose deaths nationwide.
State attorneys also filed documents ahead of a noon deadline pointing to a federal judge's decision last Friday in Nebraska not to block a scheduled Tuesday execution. The filing was based on what Nevada calls "copy-cat" arguments by a pharmaceutical company objecting to its drug being used in that state.
Nevada justices should follow Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf's reasoning in the Nebraska case, state Deputy Solicitor General Jordan T. Smith said, and allow Nevada to carry out the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.
"Many people of good faith object to the death penalty," Kopf observed. But he noted that Nebraska voters favor capital punishment, and courts should not frustrate the functioning of a democracy.
Two more filings were made in Nevada after the noon deadline, including drug company Sandoz Inc.'s bid to weigh in to argue against its product being used, and an additional state filing arguing that drug companies shouldn't be allowed to begin a "fishing expedition" for evidence.
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The Nevada state high court didn't immediately act or schedule hearings about how to proceed with the prison's effort to set a new date for the twice-postponed lethal injection of the twice-convicted killer. But justices have acted quickly on other recent developments in the case.
Dozier, 47, is not challenging his convictions or sentences for killings in Phoenix and Las Vegas. He insists he wants to die and doesn't really care if it's painful.
His executions were called off in November and July amid court arguments over the never-before-tried combination of three drugs that the state developed for its first execution in 12 years.
Officials want to use midazolam to sedate Dozier, fentanyl to suppress his breathing and a muscle paralyzing agent called cisatracurium to immobilize him and ensure his breathing stops. Critics argue the last drug would prevent witnesses from seeing signs of unconstitutional pain and suffering.
Drugmaker Alvogen, maker of midazolam, accuses state officials of misleading justices about drug expiration dates to get the court to rush a decision toward what the company calls a misapplication of its product.
"Stated bluntly and simply, the state has manufactured a claim of emergency seeking to stampede this court into a decision without an evidentiary hearing or record, cognizant that such a record will show the illegitimate acquisition and misuse of Alvogen's product," company lawyers said.
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