The State Supreme Court Monday ruled that a death row inmate’s execution can go forward. The ruling could open the door to more executions in Georgia.
Warren Lee Hill’s attorney argued that the Department of Corrections needs to hold a public hearing before switching from a three drug cocktail to one drug in lethal injections.
Hill’s execution was scheduled for last July, but was halted while the state Supreme Court considered the case.
In a unanimous ruling, the justices said a public hearing is not necessary. They said changing from three drugs to one is an administrative decision.
And the justices ruled that Hill’s execution can move forward.
Patrick Mulvaney, staff attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights, says "It is disappointing that the Department of Corrections is not required to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act in the context of execution procedures, particularly given its dismal track record. This is the same Department that purchased lethal injection drugs off the black market, and it’s the same Department that has sought to use expired drugs for executions. Moving forward, it will be more important than ever for state and federal courts to provide real oversight in this area to protect against constitutional violations."
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says several states have moved to the one drug method, and Texas adopted the change a year ago and has already used the new procedure.
He says“ They’ve had executions certainly last year and a number scheduled for this year.”
The states of Washington, Ohio and Arizona have also switched to the one drug method.
Dieter says the change in drugs makes executions take longer.
“The three drug process includes a very fast-acting drug that kills you. And that’s potassium chloride. It stops the heart in a matter of a minute or two. What the one drug process does is use an anesthetic. Something that puts you to sleep and slowly disables your other functions.” he says.
He says that takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
The Department of Corrections says it will be up to the Lee County Superior Court to proceed with Hill’s execution order. A department spokeswoman says due to the state Supreme Court ruling, other death row cases may also move forward.