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Tennessee Supreme Court Rejects Lethal Injection Challenge

The Supreme Court of Tennessee yesterday rejected a challenge to that state's current lethal injection protocol, which is largely the same as the one upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago in Glossip v. Gross.

On the issue of whether the single-drug method with pentobarbital is an available alternative method for the purpose of the Glossip standard, the court noted that it is not because it is presently not available.

As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Glossip (slip opinion page 4), the reason the preferred drug is not available is that "anti-death-penalty advocates pressured pharmaceutical companies to refuse to supply the drugs used to carry out death sentences."

The case is Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, et al. v. Tony Parker, et al., No. M2018-01385-SC-RDO-CV. The opinion is by Chief Justice Bivens, with one justice dissenting.

Edmund Zagorski is set for execution Thursday, and David Miller is set for execution December 6. 

Dissenting Justice Sharon Lee decries the "rush to execute." Zagorski was sentenced to death thirty-four years ago.

Update:  Adam Tamburin reports for the Tennessean that Zagorski has chosen the electric chair, which is Tennessee's alternative method. It was last used in 2007.

Zagorski was convicted in 1984 of killing two men in Robertson County. He shot them, slit their throats and robbed them after luring them into the woods by promising to sell them a large amount of marijuana.
Choosing the alternative method waives the right to challenge it. See Stewart v. LaGrand, 526 U.S. 115 (1999).

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