Texas Judge Denies Efforts to Block New Lethal Injection Protocol

On Friday, April 1, 2011 Travis County District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky denied efforts by Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster to invalidate a new protocol for carrying out executions.   Earlier in March, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced that it planned to replace sodium thiopental, the first drug used in the lethal injection process, with pentobarbital.  TDCJ’s supply of sodium thiopental expired last month; the sole U.S.-based manufacturer of that drug, Hospira, announced earlier this year that it would no longer produce it.

According to the Associated Press, Foster’s attorneys contended that the change in protocol violated the Texas Administrative Procedures Act, which requires notice and an opportunity for public comment.  They sought to block the new procedure and require executions to be carried out under the previous protocol.  In a news release, Maurie Levin, counsel for Mr. Foster, asserted that “executions, and the manner in which we carry them out, are of unique public interest and importance, and precisely the sort of decisions and procedures that should be aired in the light of day.”

Judge Yelenosky ruled, however, that state law allows prison officials to make certain decisions – including those related to the execution process – without public scrutiny or input.

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Cleve Foster on Tuesday, April 5 at 6:00 PM.  His attorneys plan to appeal to the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin.

Read more from the Austin American-Statesman and the Texas Tribune.

Read a previous post on this topic.

2 thoughts on “Texas Judge Denies Efforts to Block New Lethal Injection Protocol

  1. On Sunday, April 3, 2011, the ACLU of Texas released a report contrasting the strict regulations for putting animals to sleep with what it deemed a “lax attitude regarding the taking of human life.” “Regulating Death in the Lone Star State: Texas Law Protects Lizards From Needless Suffering, but not Human Beings” calls for greater transparency and scrutiny of the state’s lethal injection protocol. Among other issues, the report notes that state law does not mandate a minimum training level for those who carry out executions.

    You can read the full report at http://standdown.typepad.com/LI-REPORT-ACLU-Regulating_Death_in_the_Lone_Star_State.pdf.

    Steve Hall has more at http://standdown.typepad.com/weblog/2011/04/regulating-death-in-the-lone-star-state.html.

  2. Pentobarbitol is cruel and unusual punishment. How can this possibly be legal? It is extremely painful. The inmate cannot move and yet he is alive and can feel every vein boiling like fire, he can feel his heart burst and yet he cannot move or scream. His brain is alive for several minutes. I hate the thought of an animal going through this and I think it is cruel and painful for them as well and should not be allowed.
    It is my understanding that executions are on hold in California for just this reason. I have a great sympathy and empathy for victims of violent crimes as well. However, the inmate is sentenced to death; not death by torture and humiliation! Our un-justice system is for behind other states and most advanced countries have done away with executions. Our Criminal Justice System needs a complete overhaul in Texas. Gov. Perry says he is tough on crime, however; I do not know of any state that is NOT tough on crime!

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