Lethal Injection

This Friday, July 25, 2014 file photo shows bottles of midazolam at a hospital pharmacy in Oklahoma City. On Monday, June 29, 2015, The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma saying that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

By Brenda Gazzar, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 06/29/15 – 8:07 PM PDT |

A Supreme Court decision upholding a controversial drug used in lethal injection executions in Oklahoma starts the clock for California to come up with its own injection procedures, thus increasing the chance executions could resume here.

The justices on Monday ruled 5-4 that the sedative midazolam, which was implicated in several botched executions and is the first of three drugs in Oklahoma’s lethal injection cocktail, can be used without violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

State and federal court decisions have prevented California from using its three-drug lethal injection protocol, contributing to a nine-year hiatus in executions. One was a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol could result in excessive pain. But after families of homicide victims sued the state in November in an effort to end delays, prison officials agreed this month to submit proposed regulations for a new lethal injection procedure — a precursor to resuming executions — within 120 days of the Supreme Court decision.

“I very much doubt that (California corrections officials) would use midazolam, but whatever they adopt I think the Supreme Court has raised the bar for anyone wanting to challenge it” with this decision, said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which represented the families in the lawsuit.

However, Matt Cherry of Death Penalty Focus, which opposes capital punishment, said he doesn’t think the Supreme Court decision in the Glossip v. Gross case will help or hinder California’s procedures.

“I think you’re talking about a very different protocol in California,” Cherry said. “And I think that California would have its own standards and the court would have its own standards for what is cruel and unusual.”

To read entire story, click here.