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Florida District Court Stays Execution

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Noting that it "would not issue this stay absent the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in Baze", the District Court for the Middle District of Florida decided to stay the execution of Mark Dean Schwab today. The court's decision can be found here.

In reaching her decision, Justice Anne C. Conway reasoned that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari in Baze, Schwab had met his burden of showing a "significant possibility of success on the merits of his claims" that Florida's lethal injection protocol violated Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. "Success on the the merits" of claims is just one of the four criteria a judge must weigh when determining whether to grant a stay. The others include: the strong presumption against issuing a stay when the inmate could have brought the claim earlier; protecting the state from speculative suits; and most importantly, the State's strong interest in enforcing its criminal judgments without undue interference from the federal courts. Justice Conway ultimately determined that in Schwab's case, federal court interference was not "undue" since postponing execution only a "short time until Baze is decided" was not impermissible interference with Florida's execution process. The Florida Attorney General is appealing the decision (view Florida Today's report here) but if the appeal fails Schwab will not be executed under Florida's new protocol until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in Baze, .

The Associated Press report on the decision can be found in the International Herald Tribune. The Orlando Sentinel also has an article by Sarah Lundy.

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Vacated by the 11th, Thursday am.

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