Jackson v. Danberg, No. 11-9002 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Delaware's death penalty statute calls for lethal injection but does not mandate use of a particular drug, Del. Code tit. 11 sec. 4209(f). Death row inmates challenged, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a 2011 change in the protocol, brought about by nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. The district court declined to reopen a challenge to a previous protocol and to stay a pending execution. The Third Circuit affirmed. The purpose of the protocol is to render the inmate unconscious before execution and there was no affirmative evidence that pentobarbital, used under the 2011 protocol, fails to do so. The court was not required to consider the comparative risks of known and available alternatives.The district court acted within its discretion in finding that the use of pentobarbital did not create a demonstrated risk of severe pain.