Tuesday, May 08, 2007


What's the Court Pondering Now?

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is currently considering whether or not to overturn a panel decision to reinstate Philip Workman's execution and ignore the serious risk posed by Tennessee's recently revised lethal injection procedures. Our regular readers will remember that these procedures were developed by the department of Corrections, behind closed doors, and it is unclear what, if any, medical experts were consulted during their development. Well, finally a trained doctor of anesthesiology has examined Tennessee's lethal injection protocols (the ones released less than a week ago that apparently Philip Workman is challenging too late). Dr. Mark Heath is a professor at Columbia University and has testified as an expert witness in a number of states regarding lethal injection. He has also done recent extensive study of the effects of lethal injection upon inmates. In other words, he's an expert.

So check out the report Dr. Heath submitted on Tennessee's new "constitutional" execution procedures.

Dr. Heath reports that there are serious problems throughout the process, from the drug doses (it looks like Tennessee has a typo in its protocols again), to the choice of method. Dr. Heath explains clearly that lethal injection can be done humanely, but that Tennessee's three drug cocktail, and the complete lack of medical oversight, proper training of personnel, or clear directions, do not come close to meeting this standard.

Now this affidavit was presented in the district court and resulted in the temporary restraining order which a 6th Circuit panel overturned yesterday. The state has not produced any contradicting expert testimony, and yet, the panel has somehow completely ignored the opinion of one of the foremost experts in the field!

Perhaps the full 6th Circuit can act with a little more fairness.

Comments :
I am personally FOR the death penalty. BUT in this case, I don't think Philip Workman is guilty and despite my feelings on Tennessee and it's execution process, I don't want this man executed!
Thanks for your comments and your honesty. I think that this case is extremely disturbing, and perhaps even moreso to folks who do support the death penalty, since it does call into question the functioning of the death penalty system. Please do call the Governor at 615.741.2001 and let him know that you oppose this execution.
Do you think Tennessee will start more executions now? Or will Workman's hurt the state's "case"? And I honestly think I'll make that call. I don't have to give my name, do I?
I don't know what effect executing Workman may have on Tennessee's death penalty overall, but I do think that the fact that he has come this close (and more than once) to execution certainly calls into question the fairness of our capital punishment system. Executing him only exacerbates those questions. It would be great if you could call the Governor, and do share that you support the death penalty (you don't have to give your name if you don't want to).
I just spoke to someone in the governor's legal office. She was very friendly and open. She said that the governor has all the facts about the case available to him and is certianly very emotional about his decision. However, at this point she conveyed that he is not entertaining the idea of issuing a stay. But she also said anything is possible. So we will see I guess.
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