In re: Ohio Execution Protocol Litigation, No. 17-3076 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Ohio’s execution protocol allows for lethal injection using a three-drug combination of midazolam; either vecuronium bromide, pancuronium bromide, or rocuronium bromide, which are paralytics; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. The midazolam is intended to ensure that the person being executed is insensate to the pain that the other drugs cause. If midazolam does not “render the prisoner unconscious,” then “there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of suffocation . . . and pain” from the second two drugs. The district court granted a preliminary injunction to allow for further litigation regarding midazolam’s efficacy before Ohio executes three men. The Sixth Circuit initially affirmed, but following rehearing en banc, reversed. The court noted that about two decades have passed since the commission of the crimes, which included the rape-murder of a three-year-old. The court stated that “In a sense the claim is unprecedented: the Supreme Court ‘has never invalidated a State’s chosen procedure for carrying out a sentence of death as the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.’” The State’s chosen procedure here is the same procedure (so far as the combination of drugs is concerned) that the Supreme Court has upheld. Every other court of appeals to consider that procedure has likewise upheld it.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on April 6, 2017.