Update II: U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ruled today that Ohio can begin killing people again, even though he has concerns.
Executions had been put on an informal hold as courts ruled whether the state followed its own guidelines in lethal injections. There had been some, uh, minor hiccups, including a guy who survived an execution.
Mark Wiles is scheduled to be executed on April 18.
Frost said today he is "admittedly skeptical" about Ohio's ability to carry the execution out properly, but said he's ruling in favor of the state, while warning officials to get it right.
"They must recognize the consequences that will ensue if they fail to succeed in conducting a constitutionally sound execution of Wiles," Frost wrote.
Update: The Supreme Court has ruled that, much like a 15-year-old boy left home alone with unfettered and unsupervised access to the internet, the state of Ohio can't be trusted.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Ohio's request to put a condemned killer to death by refusing to overrule lower court rulings that put the execution on hold.
The court on Wednesday denied the state's appeal of decisions in inmate Charles Lorraine's case that said Ohio had strayed too far from its execution policies to be trusted to carry out the death sentence for now.
Ohio AG DeWine says, basically, and we're paraphrasing here, that just because Ohio has some kinks in the whole "killing people" system, it doesn't mean they should be barred from sticking needles in the condemneds' arms.
Ohio was chugging along toward another record for executions in a year — there were 10 last year — until U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ruled that Ohio's lethal-injection protocols are a mess. That means scheduled executions, including that of Kenneth Smith, which was scheduled for next week, are on hold while Ohio checks and double checks their procedures for killing people.
It was Smith's lawyers who brought up the issues, causing the judge to issue quite the terse statement about Ohio's lethal-injection policies, according to the Dispatch.
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."
This isn't the first time issues with Ohio's lethal-injection procedures have caused courts to temporarily halt executions while the state reviewed the little things, like making sure they don't botch the execution.
That's exactly what went down in 2009 when Romell Broom survived two hours of Ohio trying to kill him, leaving an Ohio court to say, "Given the important constitutional and humanitarian issues at stake in all death penalty cases, these problems in the Ohio lethal injection protocol are certainly worthy of meaningful consideration."
The Dispatch posted a statement from prisons spokesman Carlo LoParo: "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."
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