From the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide when death row inmates may challenge lethal injection as a method of capital punishment, in a surprise decision issued after the justices dramatically stopped the execution of a Florida prisoner who was already strapped to a gurney preparing to die.
Clarence E. Hill, 48, convicted of murdering a Pensacola police officer in 1982, had refused a final meal and needles had punctured his arm when the Supreme Court stayed his execution. The court said it would hear his claim that he should have an opportunity to argue that his civil rights would be violated because the chemicals used to execute him would cause excessive pain.
It is a claim that has been pressed with growing frequency by capital defense lawyers around the country in recent years -- but that has generally not yet succeeded, either in lower courts or at the Supreme Court.
Thirty-seven of the 38 death penalty states use lethal injection, as do the U.S. military and the federal government. Since the chemical mixtures in all jurisdictions are similar to those used in Florida, a victory for Hill at the Supreme Court could tie up the death penalty across the county in litigation, at least temporarily, legal analysts said.
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