Along with Ohio, a legal debate over Washington state's lethal injection procedure is continuing with a case now before the state Supreme Court.
Attorneys for three men sentenced to die have appealed a Superior Court ruling made in July which upheld the state's method of execution. A brief by defense attorneys is scheduled to be filed Oct. 29 and the state's response is due Nov. 30.
The appeal of the Thurston County civil case was filed by Darold Stenson, who was scheduled to die in December 2008 for the murder of his wife and a business associate. Two other condemned men, Cal Coburn Brown and Jonathan Gentry, were allowed to join the lawsuit which, in Brown's case, halted his execution only hours before his March 12 execution date.
In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham ruled the state's execution protocol is not "cruel" under the state Constitution.
The state's lethal injection procedure "although not fail-safe, appears to have been designed to administer the death penalty in a way that is humane for both the inmate and the observers," Wickham said.
Unlike the case in Ohio, where an execution was halted after two hours when executioners couldn't find a usable vein, Washington state execution protocols provides the lethal injection team with up to one hour to find "suitable intravenous sites" and correctly insert catheters into the hand, leg or foot of an inmate.
If two intravenous lines cannot be inserted during the one-hour period, the prison superintendent is required to notify the state Attorney General's Office, which would seek to reschedule the execution.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.