In Ohio, 20 death row inmates have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection process, contending it amounts to torture.
Parallel to that fight, Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James Burge has ordered the state to turn over information on how lethal injections are given to condemned inmates.
County prosecutors have objected to Burge’s request, which was made after two Lorain County men accused of murder challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection prior to their trial.
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has asked the Ohio Supreme Court not to hear the issue, arguing that Burge overstepped his authority since the two men who could face the death penalty — Ronald McCloud and Ruben Rivera — haven’t been convicted.
Burge’s attorney, whom he paid with his own money, filed a motion to dismiss the attorney general’s complaint.
Burge said he’ll closely watch the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether the lethal injection process amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, even if it stems from Kentucky’s case.
“I would say that what occurs there is certainly important,” Burge said. “I don’t know the case ... (but) I would say that it would at least answer the question for that particular state. How far it would reach, I don’t know.”
The ultimate result, Burge said, would amount to solving the problem and answering, for good, the question: Is lethal injection constitutional?
“If the Supreme Court of the United States were to find that a certain method was unconstitutional, then ... that would affect everybody,” Burge said. “Or, if they found it was constitutional, that would affect everybody. That’s the last word."
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