The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday denied Ohio death row inmate Romell Broom’s request for habeas relief and held that a second execution attempt would not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Ohio had previously tried to execute Broom by lethal injection in 2009, but officials were unable to maintain a viable IV connection to his veins.
Broom was convicted of two counts of kidnapping, two counts of rape (one against a child), two counts of attempted kidnapping, one count of the aggravated murder of a 14-year-old, one count of aggravated robbery and one count of robbery, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Broom was sentenced to death, which was affirmed on appeal.
The execution was scheduled for September 15th, 2009, but, after two hours and 18 failed attempts, the medical team at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility was unable to deliver the injection. According to Broom’s petition, the attempted execution was incredibly painful and caused him to scream in pain throughout its duration. Shortly after the failed attempt, then-governor Ted Strickland granted Broom’s request for an emergency reprieve.
Over the last ten years, Broom has made several legal challenges. Primarily he has argued that a second attempt to administer capital punishment would be cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and would violate double jeopardy protections under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
In 2016 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision against Broom. They found that, “An execution had not begun when an IV line could not be established to deliver lethal drugs into an inmate’s body even though a needle was inserted multiple times, and neither the U.S. nor Ohio constitution bars the state from carrying out the execution.”
The Sixth Circuit is the latest court to rule against Broom by holding that a second execution attempt would not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. They also held that the “Ohio Supreme Court’s conclusion was consistent with the Supreme Court’s general double jeopardy jurisprudence, “and that they “reached its conclusion without the benefit of any on-point Supreme Court guidance, thus rendering AEDPA [Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996] deference particularly appropriate.”
AEDPA permits federal courts “to reverse state court merits decisions in only a narrow set of circumstances.” This decision was outside of AEDPA’s scope and one made on the merits. Accordingly, the Ohio Supreme Court decision was given deference in the affirmation by the Sixth Circuit. However, they also stressed that “We in no way condone Ohio’s treatment of Broom,” and that the botched execution was “disturbing, to say the least.”
Broom has already reportedly appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court.