Archive | lethal injection

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.

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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.

 


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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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12 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Attorneys, Federal Judge Urge 5th Circuit to Reconsider Secrecy in Tuesday’s Scheduled Execution of Robert Campbell

This morning, attorneys for Robert James Campbell, who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow in Texas, filed a stay motion and an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the court, as a federal judge did on Friday, to reconsider its jurisprudence regarding the secrecy surrounding Texas’ lethal injection drugs, particularly in light of the recent horrific botched execution in Oklahoma. The appeal can be accessed here.

As today’s filing notes, Mr. Campbell’s “8th Amendment rights can only be protected if he is provided the information required to ensure a humane, non-torturous execution.” (p. 21) The appeal also states: “By depriving [Mr. Campbell] … of the means to determine whether his rights will be violated, Defendants are effectively nullifying those rights.” (p. 2)

Mr. Campbell seeks information about the source and testing of the drugs Texas plans to use in his lethal injection execution, scheduled for Tuesday at 6 pm Central time. Last week, following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, Mr. Campbell filed a civil rights action and stay motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. 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. The complaint can be accessed here.

On Friday, May 9, 2014, Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas denied Mr. Campbell’s stay motion, 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.”

As Mr. Campbell’s attorney Maurie Levin commented, “The extreme secrecy which surrounded lethal injection in Oklahoma prior to Mr. Lockett’s execution led directly to the disastrous consequences. This is a crucial moment when Texas must recognize that death row prisoners can no longer presume safety unless full disclosure is compelled so that the courts can fully review the lethal injection drugs to be used and ensure that they are safe and legal.”

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.

The sworn statement of another anesthesiologist, Dr. Waisel, is here.

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, highlighted in his state habeas filing, including intellectual disability, quality of legal representation, disparity in sentencing, and possible racial bias at trial. Testing indicates that Mr. Campbell is a person with intellectual disability. At the age of 18, he and another man, Mr. Lewis, committed a tragic rape and murder. Although the DNA evidence implicates the men equally, Mr. Lewis is now free while Mr. Campbell is on death row. Mr. Campbell’s right to post-conviction review was essentially forfeited by an appointed lawyer who filed a boilerplate brief that was identical to the ones he filed for four other condemned men. Finally, Mr. Campbell is an African American man who was prosecuted in Harris County, Texas, during an era which has been widely criticized for overt racial bias in other cases in that area. The state habeas filing can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZmFSMVBLcmpRcU0/edit

While the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals (CCA) denied Mr. Campbell’s habeas filing, its ruling was a close 5-4 split, including a powerful dissent by Judge Acala calling the evidence of Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation ‘compelling.’  Judge Acala noted the fundamental unfairness of the CCA’s decision considering that the reason that Mr. Campbell did not have the evidence in 2003 when the CCA first turned away Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation claim is that state officials affirmatively misled Mr. Campbell’s lawyers when they told him they had no records of IQ testing of Mr. Campbell from his time on death row. The state had such test results, and they placed Mr. Campbell squarely in the range for a diagnosis of mental retardation.  As Judge Alcala puts it, “It would be unjust to penalize [Mr. Campbell] for not uncovering such a falsehood previously, when he had no basis to believe that a falsehood had been conveyed to him. . . . This Court should not base its decisions that determine whether a person will live or be executed based on misinformation or wholly inadequate information.’” (p. 5 Read the Judge’s dissent here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQTXk5c1l1VGQzSHc/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, contact Laura Burstein at Laura.Burstein@squiresanders.com(202) 626-6868. To speak to counsel for Mr. Campbell, contact Maurie Levin at maurielevin@gmail.com, and (512) 294-1540.

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10 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

Federal Judge Urges 5th Circuit to Reconsider Lethal Injection Secrecy

Yesterday, in his denial of a civil rights challenge by Robert Campbell, who is facing imminent execution, Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas stated:

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.

Judge Ellison did not grant a stay of execution to Mr. Campbell, “saying his hands were tied because of higher court rulings,” according to NBC News.

Mr. Campbell is challenging Texas’ right to execute him without disclosing the source of and other information about the compounded pentobarbital to be used in his execution, which is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

For additional information, please contact Maurie Levin, one of Mr. Campbell’s attorneys at: maurielevin@gmail.com or 512-294-1540.

Read full coverage of yesterday’s ruling from NBC News.

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06 May 2014 ~ Comments Off

TX Court Asked to Stay Execution Following Oklahoma Debacle

One week after the horrific botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, a civil rights action and stay motion on behalf of Texas death row prisoner Robert James Campbell was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, challenging Texas’ right to execute Mr. Campbell without disclosing the source of and other information about the compounded pentobarbital to be used in his execution onTuesday, May 13, 2014.

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 torturous death. The complaint and request for a stay can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQakdBUFQyQndmMFk/edit and https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQUmpZNU1BcWVFd00/edit

Maurie Levin, one of the attorneys representing Mr. Campbell, commented, “The botched execution in Oklahoma has made clear that the significant risk of a tortuous death is a very real threat when states aren’t required to facilitate executions with transparency, accountability and disclosure of the sort sought – and denied – in Oklahoma.”

 “The fact that Oklahoma attempted to execute Mr. Lockett using a different protocol that did not include the chemical (compounded pentobarbital) called for by Texas’ current protocol does not obviate a risk that derives primarily from the secrecy of the entire process – not the individual drug that might be used in one execution vs. the next,” states the lawsuit. (p. 5)

 Texas’ lethal injection protocol calls for a single dose of pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is no longer legally available in FDA-regulated form, but only from compounded 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://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZlZCMWhrWXBsSXJwTnIyWVUyZHVGM3BoWEZv/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).” Additionally, there have been multiple documented problematic executions in Texas via lethal injection, detailed on pp. 13-14.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has engaged in secretive and deceptive practices in its attempts to purchase drugs for executions previously, including using a false hospital name and a false patient name (see p. 8), and currently refuses to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug or any other information about the drug’s purity, efficacy, or testing.

As the filing states, “In this pivotal regard – the secrecy surrounding the drugs and the executions – Texas is no different than Oklahoma.” (p. 6).

“In light of these events, the risky nature of compounded drugs, problematic executions involving compounded pentobarbital, and the risks inherent to a secretive process, law and equity demand that we pause in our pursuit of executions.  To move forward without hesitation despite full awareness of the grave risks and possibly torturous results – to permit this execution to proceed in light of the eye-opening events in Oklahoma – should not be countenanced by a civilized society , nor tolerated by the constitutional principles that form the foundation of our democracy.” (p. 6)

Additionally, Mr. Campbell’s case contains other areas of concern, highlighted in his state habeas filing,including intellectual disability, quality of legal representation, disparity in sentencing, and possible racial bias at trial. Testing indicates that Mr. Campbell is a person with intellectual disability. At the age of 18, he and another man, Mr. Lewis, committed a tragic rape and murder. Although the DNA evidence implicates the men equally, Mr. Lewis is now free while Mr. Campbell is on death row. Mr. Campbell’s right to post-conviction review was essentially forfeited by an appointed lawyer who filed a boilerplate brief that was identical to the ones he filed for four other condemned men. Finally, Mr. Campbell is an African American man who was prosecuted in Harris County, Texas, during an era which has been widely criticized for overt racial bias in other cases in that area. The state habeas filing can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZmFSMVBLcmpRcU0/edit

For more 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 me atLaura.Burstein@squiresanders.com(202) 626-6868. To speak to counsel for Mr. Campbell, contact Maurie Levin at  maurielevin@gmail.com and (512) 294-1540 or Jonathan Ross at JROSS@susmangodfrey.com and832-659-8126.

 

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