Missouri lawsuit challenges execution procedures

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 | 1:48 p.m. CDT; updated 5:04 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 7, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A group of inmates, families, clergy and lawmakers have asked the state's highest court to toss out Missouri's roughly two-year-old execution protocol.

Missouri's manner of carrying out the death penalty was declared unconstitutional in 2006 by a federal judge, halting executions in the state. Earlier this year, the same federal judge upheld execution procedures that were created after his initial ruling.

The most recent lawsuit focuses on whether the polices for administering a combination of drugs to condemned prison inmates should have been subject to public comment and legislative oversight.

The Missouri Department of Corrections created the execution procedures in 2006 and implemented them itself. The department contends that they amount to "internal management" strategies and therefore don't have to go through the same level of scrutiny as official state regulations.

Missouri didn't have written execution procedures before 2006.

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