Executions could begin again

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Supreme court upholds lethal injection drug usage

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld the use of midazolam in executions, a ruling that could restart the use of capital punishment in Alabama.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of states’ use of lethal injections and death penalty opponents cannot continue to indefinitely delay lawful executions,” Strange’s statement read.

But a spokesman for Attorney General Luther Strange said Tuesday it is unclear when executions might resume at Holman Prison near Atmore.

Four previously-scheduled executions have been stayed while waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glossip v Gross, challenging Oklahoma’s lethal injection drug protocol.

Alabama filed an amicus brief in the case that was supported by 12 other states.

“We are very pleased with this ruling,” Mike Lewis, a spokesman for the AG’s office said.

When executions might resume is still an open question, Lewis said.

Read about the last execution of a Covington County man here from the Star-News’ archives.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins, who previously has stayed several executions pending the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, has given petitioners 14 days to file briefs requesting the status of the sentences.

“That’s the first step,” Lewis said. “Our criminal division is, of course, already preparing that brief.”

“Then, ostensibly, Judge Watkins will issue some sort of decision of how we go forward,” Lewis said.

It has been widely reported that Alabama uses the same drug “cocktail” in executions that was challenged in the Oklahoma case.

The state adopted that protocol in September, six months after state officials announced they’d run out of execution drugs.

The Alabama House of Representatives last year passed a bill to make the identities of death penalty drug suppliers a secret. The bill failed to pass the Senate, but state officials remain tight-lipped about the sources of lethal injection drugs.

Lewis said that, even with the uncertainties that remain, the attorney general considers the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling “good news for the victims of crime who’ve been awaiting justice for 15, 20 years or more.”

“Frankly, he felt this whole lawsuit not about the drugs, but the greater issue of the constitutionality of the death penalty,” Lewis said. “That’s a battle that will continue, obviously.”