Owens v. HillAnnotate this Case
Defendant Warren Hill was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate by beating him to death with a sink leg embedded with nails. The jury sentenced him to death, and the Supreme Court affirmed. The sentencing court issued the execution order on July 3, 2013, setting defendant's execution for the one-week period of July 13-20, 2013. That execution order was filed after the July 1, 2013 effective date of a new law designating "identifying information" concerning the persons and entities that participate in executions, including those who participate in the procurement of execution drugs, to be a "confidential state secret." Defendant filed suit naming the Commissioner of Corrections and others as defendants, seeking an interlocutory injunction, a permanent injunction, a declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus, and "[s]ealed discovery of the identity of the compounding pharmacy and the supply chain and manufacturer(s) of any and all ingredients used to produce the lethal drug compound to be injected into [defendant]." Hill alleged that the execution-participant confidentiality statute was unconstitutional on various grounds in that it wrongly denied him information revealing the identities of all those involved in his execution. Defendant's complaint also stated that it was seeking "to enforce the prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment under Georgia and Federal Law." The Superior Court granted injunctive relief, and included a stay of execution. The Supreme Court thereafter granted the State's application for discretionary appeal of the Superior Court's order. The Supreme Court concluded that this case was not moot, that the Superior Court had limited but valid jurisdiction over this matter, that the possible availability of forms of discovery beyond what was forbidden by the execution-participant confidentiality statute did not affect this case, that the execution-participant confidentiality statute was not unconstitutional, and that the Superior Court erred by granting what amounted to an interlocutory injunction.