Supreme Court refuses stay of execution for Missouri death row inmate

Supreme Court refuses stay of execution for Missouri death row inmate

[JURIST] Missouri executed death row inmate Walter Storey early Wednesday morning after the US Supreme Court [official website] denied [order, PDF] his requested stay of execution. Storey was convicted and sentenced to death [AP report] for a 1990 murder. He challenged his execution based on Missouri’s refusal to disclose the compounding pharmacy that would supply the pentobarbital for use in his lethal injection. Storey also challenged the use of midazolam as a sedative. Although the Supreme Court granted stays of execution to three death row inmates [JURIST report] in a case out of Oklahoma to determine whether midazolam is a strong enough anesthetic to use as part of a lethal injection cocktail, they declined to grant Storey’s stay. There were no reported complications [NBC News report] with Storey’s execution.

Use of the death penalty [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue throughout the US. After a rash of botched executions, numerous states have refused to disclose the compounding pharmacies for their lethal injection drugs. Critics of these secrecy practices claim that it erodes the transparency of the death penalty process [AP report] and inhibits essential government oversight. Supporters say the bill is necessary to protect individuals from being personally harassed for doing their jobs. In July the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit postponed an Arizona death row inmate’s execution [JURIST report] until prison officials revealed details on the two-drug combination that will be used for the lethal injection. In April the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri allowed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging a bill [JURIST report] intended to protect the identities of individuals who provide direct support for the administration of the death penalty, formally prohibiting the disclosure of executioners’ identities and creating a civil cause of action to recover damages against anyone who discloses an executioner’s identity. In March the Oklahoma County District Court ruled that the state’s law preventing death row inmates from obtaining information about the drugs used in lethal injections violates the Oklahoma constitution [JURIST report].