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Ohio lethal injection protocols less humane than animal euthanasia: doctor

[JURIST] Ohio's lethal injection [DPIC backgrounder] procedures fall short of standards used to euthanize animals, according to Monday testimony from an anesthesiologist before a court hearing [ACLU press release] on the constitutionality of Ohio's death penalty procedure [JURIST news archive]. Dr. Mark Heath said that the state's method does not comport with the Eighth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution or with Ohio's requirement that executions be carried out "in a professional, humane, sensitive and dignified manner." Under 2001's HB No. 362 [text], lethal injection is the only death penalty option available in Ohio. The state government is scheduled to provide its own expert witness to defend the protocols when the evidentiary hearing resumes on Tuesday. AP has more.

Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging Ohio's lethal injection practice on procedural grounds. Ohio lethal injections came under fire after a difficult May 2006 execution where staff struggled to find a vein to administer the lethal injection cocktail, and the one they did use collapsed before injection. A modified procedure was introduced in June 2006 and employed [JURIST reports] the following month. Last September, the American Bar Association death penalty assessment team called for a temporary halt on Ohio executions [ABA materials; JURIST report] on due process grounds. Several states have placed a moratorium on lethal injections pending US Supreme Court review in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket; merit briefs], including Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida [JURIST reports].

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