A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Ohio Supreme Court rejects challenge to lethal injection

The Ohio Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday rejected [opinion, PDF] a challenge to the lethal injection method of execution. In a split 5-2 decision, the court held that there is no basis under Ohio law for litigating the issue of whether the lethal injection process is constitutional. The question was referred to the high court by the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio [official website] in the case of condemned prisoner Michael Scott. Scott, who was sentenced to death for killing two men in 1999, went before the court to challenge the use of lethal injection for his execution. The court found:

Accordingly, until the General Assembly explicitly expands state review of death penalty cases by creating a methodology for reviewing Ohio's lethal-injection protocol, we must answer the certified question as follows: There is no state postconviction relief or other state-law mode of action to litigate the issue of whether a specific lethal-injection protocol is constitutional under Baze v. Rees ... or under Ohio law.
The court said it would not hear further cases regarding lethal injection until the Ohio General Assembly [official website] explicitly expanded state review of death penalty cases.

Ohio's newly adopted lethal injection method has faced numerous challenges, with one case reaching the US Supreme Court [official website, JURIST news archive]. In March, the Supreme Court refused [JURIST report] to stay the execution of an Ohio inmate challenging the state's new single-drug execution protocol, adopted [JURIST report] last November. Ohio conducted its first execution [JURIST report] using the new procedure in December. The change in procedure came after the state undertook a review [JURIST report] of its lethal injection practices in September 2009, following the planned execution of inmate Romell Broom failed when a suitable vein for the drugs' administration could not be found.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.