This past Tuesday, Florida death row inmate Clarence Hill was strapped to a gurney with the IV lines already inserted into his arms when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal.
This particular case is not a question of Hill's guilt or innocence, per se. It is much more complicated. Hill is allegedly mentally retarded. Also, his case has brought into question some technical concerns about lethal injection and the extreme pain it can cause in many cases, constituting cruel and unusual punishment.
I feel a long-winded rant coming on, so stay tuned.
Meantime, here's Hill's story via CNN:
Hours after staying the execution of an inmate who was already strapped to a gurney, the Supreme Court said Wednesday it would hear arguments from the man who claims the drug cocktail used in lethal injections can cause excruciating pain.
Lethal injections are used in most states that have capital punishment, and there's been a growing dispute over the way they are carried out.
The Supreme Court has never found a specific form of execution to be cruel and unusual punishment, and the latest case from Florida does not give court members that opportunity. The justices will, however, spell out what options are available to inmates with last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death.
Florida inmate Clarence Hill, who filed the appeal, had been strapped to a gurney with intravenous lines running into his arms Tuesday night when he won a temporary Supreme Court stay, Hill's lawyer said. The stay was signed by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
The full court announced Wednesday that the stay would be permanent until justices decide whether an appeals court was wrong to prevent Hill from challenging the lethal injection method.
The argument is expected April 26, with a ruling before July.
Hill argues that the doses of three chemicals used in Florida executions -- sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride -- can cause pain. The first drug is a pain killer. The second one paralyzes the inmate and the third causes a fatal heart attack.
The final drug, potassium chloride, "burns intensely as it courses through the veins toward the heart," Doss wrote in the appeal. He said there is "a foreseeable risk of the gratuitous and unnecessary infliction of pain."
The case is Hill v. Florida, 05-8794.