Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ohio Execution Halted After Two Hours Of Failed Attempts

The attempted execution of "53-year-old Romell Broom, who was sentenced to die for the rape and slaying of a 14-year-old Tryna Middleton in 1984" failed today.  [Quote is from the AP article found here].  After two hours of attempting to locate a vein for the lethal injection, the governor issued a reprieve and halted the execution.  Articles can be found herehere,  and hereCNN reports that during the failed execution, Mr. Broom's counsel wrote to the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and stated:
"I am advised by my co-counsel, Adele Shank, who is at the prison in Lucasville, that the execution team has been attempting since approximately 1 p.m. this afternoon to obtain IV access to a site in Mr. Broom's body in order for the lethal injections to be administered, but without any success.
"It appears ... that these efforts have been going on now for almost two hours, and that the execution team members have evidently now taken a 'break,' " Sweeney wrote.

Broom's execution was initially scheduled for 10 a.m. ET, but was delayed for legal reasons and rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, Sweeney told CNN.

"When such allegedly skilled professionals have taken this much time without successfully achieving IV access, there comes a point of diminishing returns, and a point when further attempts are cruel and counterproductive," Sweeney wrote to Moyer. "I believe we have reached that point here."
On September 1, 2009, a panel of the Sixth Circuit denied Mr. Broom's challenge to the method of execution used in Ohio.  That decision can be found here.  

On September 11, 2009, the Supreme Court of Ohio REVERSED the Ohio Court of Appeals [for the Supreme Court of Ohio opinion see here; for the Court of Appeals opinion see here] which stayed the execution.  On July 30, 2009 "The court of appeals held that pursuant to two appellate decisions from 1994 and 1995 interpreting Steckman, Broom “was unavoidably prevented from discovery of the facts upon which petitioner must rely to present the claim for relief” in his earlier petitions."  The Supreme Court of Ohio found the analysis by the court of appeals "unpersuasive" and reversed.  Interestingly, Justice Pfeifer appears to disagree with Justice Scalia's recent dissent in In re Davis and stated in a concurring opinion that if Mr. Broom's claim had any merit he would remand to the trial court for hearings regardless of procedural defects.  Justice O'Donnell dissented without opinion other than that he would have affirmed the court of appeals.

On Monday a panel of the Sixth Circuit refused to stay the execution and the court declined to hear the case en banc [see an article here].  Also on Monday,  the governor had denied Mr. Broom's request for clemency [see article here]. 

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court denied Mr. Broom's Petition for Certiorari and Application for Stay [see here] and today, the Court denied his Petition for Rehearing [see here].  In two other petitions filed by Mr. Broom,  Justice Stevens denied applications for stay today. 

It is possible the failed execution attempt could bring the case back to the Court. The AP reports that:
Richard Dieter, director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said he knows of only one inmate who was subjected to more than one execution attempt. A first attempt to execute Willie Francis by electrocution in Louisiana did not work, and he was returned to death row for nearly a year while the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether a second electrocution would be unconstitutional.
He said he expects legal challenges will mean Broom will not face execution again in a week's time.

"I think this is going to be challenged, whether under our standards of decency subjecting someone to multiple executions is cruel and unusual ... whether this is in effect experimenting on human beings, whether or not they're sure what works in Ohio," he said.
Finally, on March 17, 2006, the Sixth Circuit denied Mr. Broom's habeas petition.  That decision can be found here.  A 2002 Ohio Court of Appeals decision relating to a writ of prohibition petition filed by Mr. Broom can be found here.


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