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Missouri lethal injection procedures ruled constitutional

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] ruled unanimously Monday that Missouri's lethal injection procedures do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment [opinion text, PDF], making it possible for lethal injections to resume in that state. The court said that there was no indication that executed prisoners felt any unnecessary pain in any of Missouri's previous six lethal injections, all of which used a commonly used three-drug cocktail. If the cocktail is not administered properly, it can result in severe pain for an inmate. The ruling reverses previous orders [PDF text; JURIST report] by US District Judge Fernando Gaitan that required a board-certified anaesthesiologist to assist in executions. Missouri has been unable to find an anaesthesiologist to agree to do so.

The lawsuit [case materials] challenging Missouri's death penalty was filed by Michael Taylor [NCADP backgrounder], who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a 15-year-old girl. Taylor was hours away from being executed in February 2006 when the courts accepted his lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 [text] and halted his execution. AP has more. The Los Angeles Times has additional coverage.

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