Death Row Inmates Say Lethal Injection Violates Drug Laws

Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Three Kentucky Death Row inmates sued the state a second time claiming that lethal injection violates federal laws because a doctor doesn't obtain or administer the drugs.

The inmates claim in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Frankfort that the federal Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act require a doctor to buy and prescribe sodium thiopental, a controlled substance used in lethal injections. Trained corrections staff administer drugs at executions in Kentucky.

Inmates Thomas Clyde Bowling, Ralph Stevens Baze and Jeffrey DeVan Leonard also are asking for an injunction barring the state from using sodium thiopental unless a licensed doctor administers it.

American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part, directly or indirectly, in executions. Kentucky requires doctors to follow AMA ethical guidelines.

A federal judge dismissed a previous lawsuit by the men saying they needed to challenge the drugs through the prison grievance system. The Kentucky Department of Corrections rejected the grievance, saying nothing about the way the drugs are obtained or used violates federal law.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a similar challenge by inmates in 1985. The inmates argued that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved the drugs used in lethal injection for use on humans and that the agency was not enforcing a ban on the chemicals' use. The high court ruled the FDA has a right not to enforce regulations.

Bowling and Baze, who also challenged lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment in a 2004 lawsuit, have received several stays of execution because of the court challenges. Leonard is on his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kentucky has not declared a moratorium on executions but has not scheduled any since the 2004 lawsuit.

Bowling was sentenced to death for killing Edward and Tina Earley and shooting their 2-year-old son outside the couple's Lexington dry-cleaning business in 1990.

Baze was convicted of killing Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and deputy Arthur Briscoe during an attempted arrest in 1992. His appeals are finished. His attorney, David Barron, said the state could set an execution date soon.

Leonard, who is also known as James Earl Slaughter, was condemned to death for the January 1983 murder of Esther Stewart who owned a consignment store in Louisville.

Kentucky has 40 death-row inmates, including 11 that have been there for more than two decades. The state has executed two men since reinstating the death penalty in 1976, and only one by injection: Eddie Lee Harper in 1999.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by whatever Location: corbin on May 28, 2007 at 12:17 PM
    Well this is a huge waist of money any way just plain and simple use a bullet they are fast and cheap saves all the working class money to
  • by Ken Location: Richmond on May 24, 2007 at 12:21 PM
    These death row inmates were not smart enough to get away with their crimes so why should I believe they are smart enough to file a lawsuit like this? It's not them, it's their lawyers. If a lawyer can win an appeal, that does wonders for their egos and the possibitlity for future clients which equals money in their pockets.
  • by Stacey Location: Flemingsburg, KY on May 24, 2007 at 07:55 AM
    Viloates drug law!!!PLEASE!!!!!!What about how they violated other people by killing them etc. What about the victims families????Okay maybe we should do away with Lethal injection, I say an Eye for an Eye lets shoot them instead
  • by Jane Location: ky on May 24, 2007 at 06:20 AM
    I would like to know if these kinds of thoughs about humane treatment and cruel and unusual punishment were going through Ralph Steven Baze mind as he brutally ambushed and murdered Steve Bennett and Arthur Briscoe.
  • by Shane Location: Frankfort on May 24, 2007 at 05:14 AM
    This has nothing to do with cruel and unusual, or pain, or anything like that...this is just to delay their executions and let them live a few more years (which their victims didn't get the opportunity to do). If they don't want to be injected, the electric chair is still an option, and I don't remember inmates filing lawsuits saying that doctors had to prescribe that. Put an end to this and give them what they earned.
  • by Jeff Location: Ky on May 23, 2007 at 05:26 PM
    And what kind of laws did they (dealth row inmates) violate ? To me they have no rights , when they done the crime they lost any rights
  • by Dumb Founded Location: KY on May 23, 2007 at 02:26 PM
    You can get an Appeal on any thing, But what I don't understand is The People that died by these peoples hands has nothing. What about there family ? They should be able to see them pay for the crime. But know a lot of the family dies before this happens. And they just sat on death row still living . If they get death they should go right then. Put them to death.
  • by Joe Location: Frankfort on May 23, 2007 at 02:26 PM
    What if just think about it what if one of them is not guilty of the crime they have been put on death row for??????
  • by concerned Location: frenchburg on May 23, 2007 at 10:56 AM
    I don't understand why the higher courts allow criminals to waste our hard earned tax money to keep appealing the inevidible. I don't think it is cruel and unusual for someone to be put to death by being put to sleep. And what if they feel some pain...! Shouldn't they! They would not be where they are if they had not been dealing out CRUEL and UNUSUAL punishment to the person they violated. Do you think that the Mr. and Mrs Early and their "2" year old son deserved what happened to them. No they did not and the guy that did deserves no better. Why should more innocent people keep on feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over his heard for the rest of his natural life. That is precisely what is happening right now... All of us that does an honest days work and pay taxes are paying for him and his appeals... I say stop now and strap him down... No more thoughts to how it might cause him pain, he sure didn't worry about the pain he caused his victims. And that goes for all the other inprisoned monsters. Don't keep them on death row put them on death day and get it over with!
  • by Rose Location: Frankfort on May 23, 2007 at 10:41 AM
    It is my opinion, if death row inmates think that leathal injection is too cruel or violates drug laws, give them the electric chair.
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