Georgia judge stays Warren Hill’s execution

The 53-year-old intellectually disabled man was granted a temporary stay only hours before he was scheduled to die

Topics: warren hill, Death Penalty, capital punishment, Criminal Justice System, Prison Reform, , ,

Georgia judge stays Warren Hill’s execution

A Georgia judge has once again granted Warren Hill a temporary stay of execution, just hours before the 53-year-old intellectually disabled man was scheduled to be killed by lethal injection.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

After a 90-minute hearing, Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan scheduled another hearing for Thursday morning to hear challenges raised by Hill’s attorneys. They are challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that shields from public view the identities of the lethal injection drug’s manufacturer and physician who prescribes it.

The execution was scheduled for 7 p.m.

For the first time, Georgia has turned to an individual pharmacy for its lethal injection drug. It has become virtually impossible to secure the powerful sedative from a mass manufacturer because European-based companies that don’t want their products used for capital punishment.

“The use of an unknown, anonymously produced substance to carry out his execution carries an intolerable risk of pain and suffering, and thus constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” Hill’s attorney Brian Kammer wrote in a filing with the court.

While a separate petition by Hill’s lawyers focuses on the constitutionality of Georgia’s use of capital punishment against an intellectually disabled man, the Monday stay is based on another petition, as noted by Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic:



For reasons that are now fairly well-known, the state has had trouble finding the drug — Pentobarbital — that is required to complete the execution. This is so because the U.S. manufacturer of the drug ceased to produce it in 2011 after European manufacturers embargoed its importation here (because of their objections to its use in American executions). As “official” supplies of the drug have dwindled, state officials have resorted to dramatic means — including possibly unlawful means –  to obtain it…

…This unprecedented secrecy, Hill’s lawyers argue in their Friday brief, this freezing out of judicial review of capital protocols, creates a “grave risk” that their client will be subjected to “excruciating and unnecessary pain and suffering” when he is killed.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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