Archive | lethal injection

02 April 2015 ~ Comments Off

TCADP April 2015 Alert: State of Texas prepares to carry out four executions, despite growing opposition to the death penalty

In this edition of our monthly alert:

Scheduled executionsState of Texas obtains new supply of lethal injection drugs while two pharmaceutical associations discourage members from participating in the execution process 

Advocacy at the 84th Texas Legislature: Abolition bill filed for first time in Texas Senate

In the newsStrong message from Pope FrancisNational Latino Evangelical Coalition calls for abolition; Amnesty International issues report on death penalty worldwide

Upcoming eventsJoin TCADP at a meeting or event in your community

[…]

Continue Reading

07 January 2015 ~ Comments Off

Texas schedules 13 executions, despite dwindling drug supply

TCADP January 2015 Alert

In this edition:
Scheduled executions: State’s drug supply dwindling as legal challenges continue
TCADP 2015 Annual Conference: Register now for this important statewide gathering
In case you missed it: Outgoing Maryland Governor commutes death sentences
Upcoming events: TCADP seeks volunteers for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations
Year-end fundraising campaign: Thank you for your generous support for TCADP!

Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute three people this month:

  • On January 21, Arnold Prieto is scheduled to be executed for the 1993 robbery and murders of Rudolfo and Virginia Rodriguez and Paula Moran, a family friend, at the home of the San Antonio couple.  Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez were relatives of Prieto’s two companions, brothers Guadalupe and Jessie Hernandez.
  • On January 28, Garcia White is scheduled to be put to death for the 1989 stabbing deaths of Bonita Edwards and her 16-year-old twin daughters, Annette and Bernette, in their Houston home. He was convicted in 1996.
  • On January 29, Robert Ladd is scheduled to be executed for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in Tyler (Smith County).

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of these executions. Information and updates on these cases will be available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

Although at least 10 additional executions are scheduled to take place in Texas by the end of May, records obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) last month revealed the state has only enough pentobarbital – the sole drug used in lethal injections here – for the first five executions of the year. According to TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark, the department “continues to explore all options including the continued use of Pentobarbital or an alternate drug(s) in the lethal injection process.”

Further complicating matters, on December 11, 2014, State District Judge Darlene Byrne granted summary judgment in favor of three attorneys who filed a lawsuit last year seeking to force TDCJ to disclose the name of the drug supplier under the Texas Public Information Act.  Judge Byrne ruled that the name of the compounding pharmacy supplying lethal injection drugs for Texas executions must be released because it is public information. TDCJ is appealing the ruling.

TCADP 2015 Annual Conference
Register now for the TCADP 2015 Annual Conference, which will take place in downtown Austin on Saturday, February 21st. Take advantage of our pre-registration rates of $55 for TCADP members, $60 for non-members, and $25 for students. Rates will increase again after February 13th.

Our 2015 Keynote Speaker Tim Cole is a former district attorney with more than 20 years of experience in the courtroom. He was elected to four terms as 97th District Attorney (Archer, Clay & Montague Counties; 1993 to 2006) and served as assistant district attorney in the 271st District (Wise, Jack Counties; 2010-2014). He also served as Counsel to Governor Clements in 1990 and General Counsel for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association from 1988 to 1990.

The morning panel discussion will feature attorneys Jen Moreno and Brian Stull and will address these issues:

  • lethal injection challenges in Texas;
  • conservative concerns about the death penalty; and
  • public outcry about the innocent on death row.

Learn more about the conference, including details on our award winners, hotel information, and sponsorship opportunities.  Are you part of an organization or group that would like to share information about your work with conference participants?  Sign up to be a conference vendor or place an ad in our program.

In case you missed it
On December 31, 2014, outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced his decision to commute the sentences of the four men still on death row in that state. While Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013, the law applied only to new cases. In re-sentencing the condemned men to life without parole, O’Malley said that leaving their death sentences in place would “not serve the public good of the people of Maryland — present or future.”

In an editorial, the New York Times called the Governor’s action “a mark of how quickly the death penalty debate in America has shifted.”

Thank Governor O’Malley for finishing the job of repeal through this action sponsored by Equal Justice USA.

Upcoming Events
We invite your participation in these events taking place in communities throughout Texas on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 19, 2015:

  • In Austin, TCADP will sponsor a booth at the 21st Annual MLK Community Celebration at Huston-Tillotson University; the festival will take place immediately following the March until 3 PM. Contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org if you would like to help with our booth.
  • TCADP members in Houston will assemble at 9 AM at the corner of Hamilton and Chartres in downtown Houston and will march in the MLK Day parade, which starts at 10 AM.
  • In San Antonio, which hosts one of the largest MLK commemorations in the country, TCADP will sponsor an information booth at Pittman-Sullivan Park, 1101 Iowa St., starting at noon. Contact Kristin at khoule@tcadp.org if you would like to help TCADP Member Casey Magnuson, who is leading our activities that day.

Stay tuned for announcements about our bi-monthly luncheons in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston, among other upcoming events.

End-of-Year Fundraising Update
TCADP is immensely grateful to everyone who donated to our organization in 2014.  Responses to our year-end appeal topped all previous records and exceeded our goal of raising $20,000 in December!  We invite you to take your support to the next level by becoming a TCADP Partner for Justice or a Sustaining Member. Thank you!

Continue Reading

09 September 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas to Resume Executions on Wednesday with Secret Drug Supply

The State of Texas is scheduled to resume executions this Wednesday, September 10th, after an unusual four-month hiatus.  It if proceeds, the execution of Willie Trottie will be the first execution in Texas since April and the first here since the botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona.

This execution will take place under a shroud of secrecy, as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice still refuses to disclose its source for compounded pentobarbital, the sole drug used in executions here.  In an appeal filed today with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys for Trottie contend that the lethal injection drugs that will be used on him have expired.  Read more from the Texas Tribune.  Earlier this year, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice do not have to disclose information about the pharmacy or pharmacist now supplying the lethal injection drugs used in executions.  Read more from the Guardian.

A Harris County jury sentenced Willie Trottie to death for the 1993 murders of his former girlfriend Barbara Canada, and her brother, Titus, at the Canada family home in Houston. Canada’s mother and sister also were wounded in the attack.

The State of Missouri has also scheduled the execution of Earl Ringo for Wednesday.  Texas, Florida and Missouri  each have carried out seven executions to date this year.  Read more from the Associated Press.

We encourage all Texans to attend a vigil in your community.

Continue Reading

23 July 2014 ~ Comments Off

Another Botched Execution – This Time in Arizona

Today’s execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona took nearly two hours as he repeatedly gasped and snorted, according to witnesses.  Some reports say that Wood gasped more than 600 times during the process.  In coverage by CNNa media witness from KSAZ likened Wood’s breathing to a “fish gulping for air” and said it was difficult for everyone in the room to watch.

The events in Arizona come less than three months after the horribly botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, which reignited a national conversation about the secrecy now surrounding lethal injection protocols throughout the country.  Legal challenges in Wood’s case sought to force the state to disclose the source of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections.  Unlike states like Texas that use a single dose of pentobarbital, Arizona now uses the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone.  This was the same combination of drugs used in a problematic execution in Ohio in January.

Statement from Attorney for Joseph Wood Re: Tonight’s Bungled Execution

The following is a statement from Dale Baich, one of Joseph Wood’s attorneys, regarding today’s execution:

“The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona. It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breath for about an hour and forty minutes. We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today. Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror — a bungled execution. The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent.”

-Dale Baich

-July 23, 2014

Read coverage of today’s events and background on the case from the Associated Press and the Arizona Republic.

Continue Reading

09 June 2014 ~ Comments Off

Editorials Decry Texas Attorney General’s Decision to Uphold Secrecy in Lethal Injection Process

Three major Texas newspapers – the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, and the Austin American-Statesman – have published editorials in the last week decrying Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s decision to allow the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to withhold information about the pharmacy or pharmacist now supplying the drug used in lethal injections.  All three editorials note that on three occasions in the last four years, the Attorney General upheld the Texas Public Information Act and rejected arguments from TDCJ that it needed to protect the identity of its supplier due to “security concerns.”   They express bewilderment about Abbott’s change of heart, particularly in light of what the Associated Press has called “scant evidence” of threats to execution drugmakers.

According to the editors of the Austin American-Statesman, the ruling “was a defeat for open government and brings into question Abbott’s commitment to government transparency” (“Abbott does an about-face on open records,” June 7, 2014).  

In “No deadly secrets” (June 6, 2014), the Houston Chronicle cautions that “after last month’s botched lethal injection in Oklahoma, all Texans should be skeptical of a state government that won’t answer questions about the death penalty process. “

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (“Editorial: Greg Abbott switches position on Death Row drugs sources,” June 2, 2014) notes that the lack of transparency in the lethal injection process “… makes executions even more questionable than they are already.”

At a time when the state’s lethal injection process is shrouded in secrecy, it was troubling to learn from the Texas Tribune that TDCJ is permitting fewer media outlets to witness executions (“TDCJ Viewing Policy Reduces Witnesses to Executions,” June 5, 2014).  The Tribune reports that there are only five media seats available in the Texas execution chamber, as compared with 12 media seats in Oklahoma and 10 in Florida.  Read more about the change in policy.

 


Continue Reading

02 June 2014 ~ Comments Off

June 2014 Alert: Attorney General Upholds Shroud of Secrecy in TX Lethal Injection Process

In This Edition:

Scheduled Executions
In the News
Upcoming Events
Seeking Sustaining Members!
Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Executions
The next execution in Texas is scheduled to occur in August.  Currently, there are five executions scheduled to take place by the end of the year, and two executions scheduled for early 2015.

The State of Texas accounts for 7 out of 20 executions to date in 2014.  No executions have taken place nationwide since the botched execution in Oklahoma on April 29, and recently a federal judge in Ohio declared a moratorium on executions until the state addresses legal issues related to its new lethal injection protocol.  May was the first month with no executions in Texas since August of last year.

In the News
Texas Attorney General Reverses Course, Rules In Favor of Secrecy
On May 29, 2014, the Office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an order that defends secrecy at the expense of open government – reversing the position his office took in three prior opinions in recent years.  Abbott’s office ruled in favor of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, finding that officials do not have to disclose information about the pharmacy or pharmacist now supplying the lethal injection drugs used in executions.  Read more, including a statement from attorney Maurie Levin, on the TCADP blog and from the Texas Tribune.

Making the Conservative Case Against the Death Penalty
Several recent high-profile articles have highlighted the work of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty and the way the death penalty violates conservative principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility.  Check out these features in Newsweek, the Boston Globe and Townhall Magazine.

Upcoming Events
Join TCADP as we launch our bi-monthly lunch series in Fort Worth!  We’ll be gathering on Wednesday, June 4 from 12:00 to 1:30 PM at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, which is located at 2708 West Fwy, Fort Worth, TX 76102.  Meet other supporters in the area and learn how you can get involved in TCADP’s priority initiatives, including our speakers’ tour this fall in the Metroplex! To RSVP, please email TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé at khoule@tcadp.org or call the TCADP office at 512-441-1808.


This summer, TCADP will be involved in numerous religious and civic conferences and community festivals across the state.  These events provide us with an opportunity to raise awareness about the realities of the Texas death penalty and identify other Texans who support our mission.  Check the calendar below for details and email info@tcadp.org to volunteer. (Pictured: Shannon Breeding staffing the TCADP table at a recent civic outreach opportunity.)

>Seeking Sustaining Members!
Make an investment in the work of TCADP today by becoming a Sustaining Member!  Your membership in TCADP will renew automatically each year on a date you choose, through the credit card you provide.  This reliable source of support for TCADP ensures the continuity of programs and activities we provide throughout the state of Texas. Sign up now!

Calendar and Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Shoutout: Thank you to Rev. Susan Buchanan for all of her support in making the TCADP presence at the recent Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Houston possible.  In just a few days, Susan, Jennifer Simmons and other UMC volunteers were able to recruit close to 80 clergy signers to the “Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty!”  We are getting closer to our goal of 500!


June
1-3 TCADP info at North Texas Annual Conference United Methodist Church (UMC), Richardson 4 TCADP Luncheon in Fort Worth, 12:00 to 1:30pm
13 Rio Texas Annual Conference UMC Social Justice Luncheon featuring Anthony Graves, Corpus Christi, Noon.* Online Registration through June 9!
19-22 TCADP booth at Texas Black Expo, Houston*
27-28 TCADP booth at Texas Democratic Party Convention, Dallas*

July
23 TCADP Bi-Monthly Luncheon in Austin, 12:00 to 1:00 PM, Faith United Methodist Church
26-27 TCADP booth at the Dallas Nelson Mandela World Music Festival, Grand Prairie
29 Fair & Just Lunch Series in Houston, 12:30 to 1:30; St. Anne’s Catholic Church

*For more information about these events or to volunteer to staff a table at an outreach event, email info@tcadp.org.

Support all of the programs and initiatives described here with a generous donation to TCADP today!

Continue Reading

29 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Texas Attorney General Rules in Favor of Government Secrecy Surrounding Lethal Injection Process

Today the Office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an order that defends secrecy at the expense of open government – reversing the position his office took in multiple prior opinions over the last six years.  In so doing, Abbott’s office ruled in favor of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, finding that they do not have to disclose information about the pharmacy or pharmacist supplying the lethal injection drugs used in executions.

The Attorney General’s Ruling also finds that TDCJ may keep secret their “DEA Registration”–a form that is required to purchase the lethal injection drugs. The DEA registration TDCJ has used to date lists them as the “Huntsville Unit Hospital” – a hospital that no longer exists.  That false information has provided TDCJ with a medical persona that has been used previously to mislead pharmacies about the reason for the purchase of lethal drugs.

The following is a statement from attorney Maurie Levin, whose public information request was denied by the Attorney General today:

“It is deeply disturbing and frankly quite shocking that the highest law enforcement official in the state has suddenly reversed his position on disclosure when it comes to lethal injection, particularly considering the horrifically botched execution in Oklahoma last month that was the direct result of secrecy surrounding the process.

‘Serious questions surround this about-face, including why our Attorney General, who once championed transparency, is suddenly now supporting secretive government practices.”

–       Maurie Levin, Attorney | May 29, 2014

The Texas Attorney General’s decision in response to the public information request can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZDUxQ2twZlpKNFU/edit?usp=sharing

Ms. Levin’s brief arguing for the need for transparency can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQbHhrUFBlRDhaWmc/edit?usp=sharing

For more information, Maurie Levin can be reached at: maurielevin@gmail.com and 512-294-1540.

 

Continue Reading

13 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Just In: Challenge to Texas Lethal Injection Secrecy Filed with U.S. Supreme Court re Tonight’s Scheduled Execution

For more information, please contact Laura Burstein at: at Laura.Burstein@SquireSanders.com or 202-626-6868 (o) or 202-669-3411 (c).

JUST IN:

Today, attorneys for Robert James Campbell, who is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CT tonight in Texas, filed a stay motion and an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to address the constitutionality of the secrecy surrounding Texas’ lethal injection drugs, particularly in light of the recent horrific botched execution in Oklahoma. Mr. Campbell seeks information about the source and testing of the drugs Texas plans to use in his lethal injection execution.  As the appeal notes, it was only recently, with its purchase of the most recent batch of lethal injection drugs, that Texas began to follow the path of secrecy shared by Oklahoma in the weeks leading up to Mr. Lockett’s horrific death.

A link to the appeal can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQSGo4WUlNN0xuZTg/edit

Maurie Levin, one of Mr. Campbell’s attorneys, commented, “The extreme secrecy which surrounded lethal injection in Oklahoma prior to Mr. Lockett’s execution led directly to disastrous consequences. This is a crucial moment when the courts must recognize that death row prisoners can no longer rely on the State’s bald assertion that the events in Oklahoma won’t repeat themselves in Texas.  Unless the courts demand that Texas proceed with a commitment to transparency and accountability, there is an unacceptable risk that other prisoners will be subjected to the torturous death suffered by Mr. Lockett.”

An appeal filed yesterday with the Fifth Circuit was denied (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQakdBUFQyQndmMFk/edit), but had urged that court, as a federal judge did on Friday, to reconsider its jurisprudence regarding lethal injection and secrecy. That appeal noted that Mr. Campbell’s “8th Amendment rights can only be protected if he is provided the information required to ensure a humane, non-torturous execution.”  The appeal also stated: “By depriving [Mr. Campbell] … of the means to determine whether his rights will be violated, Defendants are effectively nullifying those rights.” (p. 2).  The Fifth Circuit’s opinion allotted one page to the analysis of the issues presented, and did not mention the events in Oklahoma or Mr. Lockett’s botched execution.

The decision of the District Court on Friday, May 9, 2014 was far more contemplative in its ruling, writing:

“The horrific narrative of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014 requires sober reflection on the manner in which this nation administers the ultimate punishment. While the law currently does not permit injunctive relief, this Court urges the Fifth Circuit to reconsider its jurisprudence that seems to shield crucial elements of the execution process from open inquiry.”

Texas’ lethal injection protocol calls for a single dose of pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is no longer legally available in FDA-regulated form, but only from compounding pharmacies, which operate outside of FDA oversight, making it impossible to know if the drugs have been properly prepared and tested in order to ensure the execution will be carried out in a manner that comports with the Constitution. In addition, documents show that TDCJ is in possession in midazalom, the first drug used in the botched execution of Mr. Locket: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQOTVldW11MGRPVE0/edit?usp=sharing

Executions in Oklahoma and South Dakota that used compounded pentobarbital appeared to have had serious problems. On January 9, 2014, Oklahoma executed Michael Wilson, presumably also using compounded pentobarbital as the first drug in the three-drug formula. Prior to losing consciousness, Mr. Wilson cried out, “I feel my whole body burning.” Those were his last words. The State has refused to provide any information about what might have gone wrong in Mr. Wilson’s execution, but expert pharmacologist Larry D. Sasich, PharmD, MPH, FASHP, signed a sworn affidavit stating, “It is my opinion that Mr. Wilson’s reaction is consistent with contaminated pentobarbital sodium injection.”

Dr. Sasich’s affidavit is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQNDBZYVF5YUV4THM/edit

The sworn statement of another anesthesiologist, Dr. Waisel, is here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQQ0l5b1RHUG0wLVE/edit

In October 2012, in South Dakota, Eric Robert was executed using compounded pentobarbital. Witnesses reported that he “appeared to clear his throat and gasp heavily, at which point his skin turned a blue-purplish hue. Mr. Robert opened his eyes and they remained open until his death, and his heart continued beating for 10 minutes after he ceased to breathe.”

On April 14, 2014, in Texas, Jose Villegas was executed with compounded pentobarbital.  “As a journalist witness wrote:  “Just as the dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he said, ‘It does kind of burn.  Goodbye.’  He gasped several times, then began breathing quietly. (pp. 11-12 of the civil rights complaint: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQakdBUFQyQndmMFk/edit?pli=1 ).” Additionally, there have been multiple documented problematic executions in Texas via lethal injection, detailed on pp. 13-14 of the civil rights complaint.

Additionally, Mr. Campbell’s case contains other areas of concern including the fact that he is a person with intellectual disability, and that the state failed to disclose evidence of testing which showed his intellectual disability. The Arc, a national organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disability, issued a letter yesterday condemning Mr. Campbell’s execution, which can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQQlFnOVhVNUNEeE0/edit. A press release detailing more about Mr. Campbell’s intellectual disability is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQNnN1RmVZWGVPNkU/edit

For more information, including information about the Texas lethal injection protocol, drugs in the TDCJ’s possession, background on previous disputes between TDCJ and pharmacies, do not hesitate to contact counsel for Mr. Campbell, Maurie Levin at maurielevin@gmail.com and (512) 294-1540.

Continue Reading