[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] refused Monday to entertain a second appeal by convicted murderer Clarence Hill [NCADP advocacy letter] in which his lawyers argued that Florida's system of death by lethal injection amounted to a cruel and unusual punishment. The decision has little practical significance, as Hill's execution has already been stayed pending an appeal that the Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] to last month. But today's denial of certiorari means Hill's execution will not be prevented on "cruel and unusual" grounds.
Hill's lawyers had argued that the Florida system of execution can cause severe pain. Like other states that authorize lethal injection [DPIC backgrounder], Florida uses a three-drug system to execute criminals; the first of which acts as a painkiller while the second one paralyzes, and finally the third drug causes a fatal heart attack. A 2005 study published [registration required] in the medical journal Lancet [journal website], however, indicated that the painkiller may wear off before the inmate dies. The Florida Supreme Court [official website; opinion, PDF] ruled that such "technical difficulties during executions" could not justify a finding that lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment. AP has more.