LOUISIANA (USA): EXECUTIONS ON HOLD FOR AT LEAST A YEAR AS STATE SORTS OUT DEATH PENALTY METHOD
June 23, 2015: Executions in Louisiana are on hold for at least a year because the state doesn't have the drugs needed to put inmates to death, according to a court filing.
Lawyers for Christopher Sepulvado and the state Department of Corrections were supposed to be in federal court Thursday to schedule a trial on the constitutionality of Louisiana's method of execution.
Instead, U.S. District Court Judge James Brady on Tuesday delayed the trial and Sepulvado's execution - as well as 4 others on death row - until July 2016 as Louisiana tries to figure out how it can carry out the death penalty.
This is the 2nd time in a year that the state has asked to delay the trial. States around the country have struggled to execute prisoners because of shortages of lethal injection drugs. In a few cases, it's taken an unusually long time for inmates to die from new drug combinations. In the motion to delay the hearing, Department of Â Corrections attorney James Hilburn wrote that "it would be a waste of resources and time to litigate this matter at present" because the facts in the case are changing. He wrote that he expects those issues to be Â "more settled" by July 2016. Hilburn declined to elaborate on the reasons for the delay.
Louisiana's current death-penalty protocol calls for a mix of hydromorphone and midazolam, the same drugs used last summer during an Arizona execution that took nearly 2 hours to complete.
Louisiana's last known supplies of the drugs expired earlier this year. Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for Sepulvado, said the state "came to us after they were unable to locate any legal source for lethal injection drugs and asked for another year to come up with a new method of execution or source of drugs." Other death-row inmates who won stays of execution with Tuesdayâ€™s ruling are: Jesse Hoffman, Bobby Hampton, Nathaniel Code, and Kevan Brumfield. Of the five, only Sepulvado has been given an execution date. Lawyers are set to meet July 11, 2016, to set a new trial date in his lawsuit. (Source: The Lens, 23/06/2015)