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Appeals court denies Georgia death row inmate request for firing squad

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Monday denied [opinion, PDF] Georgia death row inmate J.W. Ledford's request that his execution be carried out by firing squad rather than lethal injection. Ledford's counsel argued that lethal injection would violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment because Ledford has been taking a prescribed drug that would prevent the lethal injection protocol from operating as intended. The court ruled that because execution by lethal injection has already been ruled constitutional, Georgia did not need to "experiment with execution by . . .firing squad." Ledford was convicted after robbing and murdering his neighbor in 1992 and was "unanimously recommended imposition of the death penalty." Ledford's attorneys will likely appeal [Reuters report] to the Supreme Court, but if the execution goes through, it will be the 70th execution in Georgia since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Use of the death penalty remains a controversial issue throughout the US. Earlier this month, the Delaware House of Representatives [JURIST report] passed a bill [text] that would reinstate the death penalty. In April, Arkansas planned [JURIST op-ed] to execute eight people over ten days, but this planned was later blocked by US District Court Judge Kristine Bakerby issuing [JURIST report] a temporary injunction [text, PDF]. In March, Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] signed a new bill [SB 280, materials] which stated that the death penalty may only be imposed [JURIST report] by a judge upon unanimous recommendation from the jury.

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