AFRICANGLOBE – A federal appeals court on Tuesday turned down a request for a stay of execution from a Texas inmate hours before he was scheduled to die.
Lawyers for the inmate, Robert James Campbell, immediately filed an appeal of the decision with the United States Supreme Court. The state’s attorney general, Greg Abbott, also filed a response.
Mr. Campbell was convicted of abducting, raping and killing Alexandra Rendon in 1991. His request for a stay was based in large part on Texas’ refusal to identify the source of the compounded drug to be used in the execution chamber.
His lawyers compared the state’s lack of transparency on executions to similar policies in Oklahoma, which two weeks ago botched the execution of a convicted man, Clayton D. Lockett. The intravenous delivery of a three-drug cocktail failed, and Mr. Lockett writhed in pain and moaned, dying 43 minutes later. Prison officials in Oklahoma had trouble finding a suitable vein on Mr. Lockett’s limbs, so they inserted a catheter through his groin.
Oklahoma delayed its next scheduled execution by six months to allow time for a review of its lethal injection procedures; President Obama, who called the Lockett execution “deeply disturbing,” directed the Justice Department to review how the death penalty is applied in the United States.
Lawyers for Mr. Campbell, 41, argued that the Oklahoma debacle could be replayed in Texas, writing in its appeal that “what the events in Oklahoma have made clear is that the risk of torture and a clearly cruel and unusual outcome has been proved to be a very real threat when states aren’t required to facilitate executions with transparency and accountability and disclosure of the sort sought — and denied — in Oklahoma.”
In denying the appeal Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans stated, “Campbell speculates that there are unknowns regarding the drug to be used,” but noted that speculation “is not enough” to halt an execution.
Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, had argued that their lethal injection procedures and drugs were sound and differed substantially from those used in Oklahoma. Mr. Abbott, the attorney general, has said “it’s like comparing apples and oranges.”
In 2012, Texas changed its execution protocol from a three-drug cocktail similar to the kind used in Oklahoma to a single drug, after the state prison agency’s stock of one of the three drugs expired and it was unable to obtain a new shipment.
Texas officials said they had carried out three executions using the same drug from the same supplier — a licensed compounding pharmacy in the United States — and the drug, pentobarbital, was tested at 108 percent potency. They also said in court documents that Texas had not used midazolam, the sedative used in Mr. Lockett’s execution, but pentobarbital, which they said “has been used effectively across the nation and in 33 executions in Texas.”
By: John Schwartz
Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow