Ruling Halts Ohio Executions

Posted on behalf of Cox Law Office, LLC

State won’t appeal judge’s decision; lethal-injection procedures to be revised

Thursday, July 14, 2011  03:07 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Ohio executions are on hold while state prison officials adjust lethal-injection procedures that a federal judge termed haphazard.

Attorney General Mike DeWine’s decision not to appeal U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost’s order means an indefinite postponement of the execution of killer Kenneth Smith of Hamilton, in southwestern Ohio, which had been scheduled for Tuesday.

The long-range effect might include delays in some of the nine other executions scheduled through September 2012.

DeWine told The Dispatch yesterday that, while he “respectfully disagrees” with Frost’s ruling, “the state is going to take that decision and follow it and make revisions and comply with it.

“Once that is done, I would anticipate that the state would go back to Judge Frost.”

He said the goal would be to “comply within a short period of time,” but he would not predict how short.

Smith, 45, was to be executed at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville for his role in the slayings of Lewis and Ruth Ray in their home on May 12, 1995.

 

However, Smith’s attorneys questioned the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s adherence to its execution policies, specifically the required number of team members present, documentation of mixing of the drug used to kill inmates, and qualifications of team members preparing the drug.

Frost halted the execution in a decision issued last week. He wrote, “Ohio pays lip service to standards it then often ignores without valid reasons, sometimes with no physical ramifications and sometimes with what have been described as messy if not botched executions.”

In a statement, prisons spokesman Carlo LoParo said, “Those involved in implementing court-ordered lethal injection sentences in Ohio have consistently carried out this extremely difficult task in a dignified, professional and humane manner. We will use Judge Frost’s decision as an opportunity to improve our procedures and practices in preparation for carrying out future lethal injection sentences.”

He said the agency “believes its implementation of court-ordered lethal-injection sentences does not violate the constitutional rights of condemned prisoners.”

Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said his office has been concerned with lethal-injection protocol for some time.

“There’s a history in Ohio of the procedures either failing or not being followed. You’ve had two executions that went badly and one that failed in Rommel Broom. It’s their own protocol that they’ve written, and they haven’t followed it very often, if at all.”

Young said he’s glad DeWine and prison officials are revising the procedures, but he said this might provide an opportunity to “step back for a moment” and take a big-picture look at the need for capital punishment in Ohio.

Ohio has executed 45 men, four of them this year, since resuming capital punishment in 1999.

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