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Montana death row inmate files challenge against lethal injection procedures

[JURIST] A Montana death row inmate filed a lawsuit [PDF complaint; press release] Thursday asserting that the lethal injection protocol used by Montana's Department of Corrections constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under both Article 2 of the Montana Constitution and the Eighth Amendment [texts] to the US Constitution. American Civil Liberties Union of Montana [advocacy website] lawyers representing Ronald A. Smith, who was sentenced to death for the murder of two men in 1982, argued that Montana executioners receive little training, making it highly likely that they may improperly administer the three-drug execution cocktail and cause the condemned inmate intense pain during the execution.

Last year, the Democratic-controlled Montana Senate voted to give second-reading approval to a bill [PDF text; JURIST report] that would eliminate the death penalty [JURIST news archive] in Montana, but the bill stalled [JURIST report] in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives. Several US states, including Florida, California, and New Jersey [JURIST reports], have recently suspended the death penalty pending review of the manner in which it is administered. The Billings Gazette has more.

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