The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion, PDF] a preliminary injunction against Ohio’s lethal injection process. The court ruled [Reuters, PDF] that the only question before them was whether the lower court abused its discretion in allowing the injunction, which the court of appeals held it did not. This case is a result of Ohio planning on using a new, three-drug process that have previously caused problems in executions in Ohio and Arizona. Ohio had halted all executions in 2014 after Dennis McGuire’s execution took 25 minutes, where witnesses claim [cleveland.com report] he gasped and convulsed for 15 minutes. The District Court ruled that the three-drug protocol adopted using a paralytic agent and potassium chloride was “completely inconsistent” with the state’s position in a previous ruling. This decision prevents Ohio from executing three death-row inmates due to their inability to use the drugs in their new protocol.
The death penalty has been a pressing issue across the country. Last week the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the state’s lethal injection protocols in a unanimous opinion. In February the Mississippi house approved a bill [JURIST report] allowing firing squad executions. Also that month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio refused to lift [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction that delays executions in Ohio. In January Judge Michael Merz blocked [JURIST report] Ohio’s lethal injection protocol by deeming it unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Also in January the US Supreme Court refused [JURIST report] to consider a challenge to Alabama’s death penalty system. In December a report by the Death Penalty Information Center found that the use of capital punishment in the US is at a 20-year low [JURIST report].