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A Last-Minute Stay For An Exceptionally Heinous Killer

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Jim Salter reports from St. Louis for AP:

A federal judge in Missouri on Tuesday granted a stay of execution to white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin just hours before his scheduled death, citing concerns over the state's new execution method.
I don't have the actual ruling, but from the story it appears that the judge might believe that litigating the method of execution is the new normal, a permanent additional phase to capital litigation, and every inmate has to be allowed that challenge.  It shouldn't be.  A single-drug execution with pentobarbital is so far from the risk of extreme pain required under Baze that there normally should not be any basis for a stay.

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If the quoted material is true, the learned Clinton judge seems to misapprehend the standard set forth in Baze:

"Laughrey wrote that the Missouri Department of Corrections 'has not provided any information about the certification, inspection history, infraction history, or other aspects of the compounding pharmacy or of the person compounding the drug." She noted that the execution protocol, which has changed repeatedly, 'has been a frustratingly moving target.'"

Last I checked, Baze didn't authorize intrusive discovery absent a showing of a serious risk of substantial pain. It appears that the learned Clinton judge flipped the burdens here.

Yet another example why the federal judiciary should be completely out of the business of state executions.

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