Supreme Court to hear petition to halt execution
October 15, 2007
The Nevada Supreme Court is reviewing a last-minute petition seeking to block tonight’s scheduled execution of William Castillo.
The petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union argues executing Castillo tonight would flaunt the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court because the constitutionality of lethal injection is currently “in legal limbo.”
It asks for a writ halting all executions pending the result in that Kentucky case, pointing out that Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware and Texas have already done so and Florida is seriously considering the same.
The petition says even before the Supreme Court agreed to take up that Kentucky case, state courts in California, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee had stopped lethal injection.
The petition points out there is also an unresolved case in the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to block the Execution of Pedro Rodriguez on grounds lethal injection is cruel and unconstitutional.
“A small delay in his execution to assure Nevada complies with the constitution would not prejudice anyone,” the petition argues.
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The Nevada Supreme Court has set a 4 p.m. hearing on whether to halt the execution.
Opponents charge that inmates are not unconscious but simply unable to move or show any response during lethal injection. It says they are in agony and just appear to be serene.
The petition challenge says not only should the execution be halted because the federal court is reviewing it’s constitutionality, but it argues the use of the paralyzing agent is unconstitutional because it is nothing more than “a chemical veil that inhibits the First Amendment right of the press to witness and report on the effects of lethal injection.
“The use of the drug pancuronium bromide in the execution process thwarts this public watchdog function by paralyzing the inmate’s muscles so that any pain or other response is masked and hidden from the witnesses.”