[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday denied [opinion, PDF] a Texas death row inmate’s challenge to the drugs that would be used in his lethal injection. Convicted killer Willie Trottie alleged in his appeal that the drugs to be used in his execution might be expired, which could result in torturous pain, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments [LII backgrounder]. The court found that the question of the drugs’ effectiveness amounted to mere speculation and affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. Trottie is scheduled for execution Wednesday evening.
The controversy surrounding the contents of lethal injection drugs and execution protocol in the US has been a mainstream issue in politics and in courts around the US in 2014. Last week the governor of Oklahoma announced a series of new protocols [JURIST report] that are expected to take effect for state executions following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. In May the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals approved [JURIST report] a six-month stay of the execution for a current death row inmate while an investigation is conducted into issues with Lockett’s execution. Two weeks ago the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Oklahoma, the Guardian US and the Oklahoma Observer filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma seeking greater media access to state executions. In a June article JURIST Guest Columnist Andrew Spiropoulos of the Oklahoma City University School of Law discussed [JURIST op-ed] the tactical strategies of all parties involved in the Oklahoma Courts’ death penalty decisions. Also in June JURIST Guest Columnist Kimberly Newberry clarified the current policy [JURIST op-ed] surrounding lethal injection law in Oklahoma and explored the repercussions of such a policy.