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- Darpana Sheth, Institute for Justice
On April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Glossip v. Gross. This case concerns three questions. The first is whether it is constitutional for a state to execute an inmate by administering a three drug protocol in which a) there is some scientific agreement that the first drug does not sufficiently relieve pain or consistently render a person in a deep state of unconsciousness and b) there is a substantial risk that administration of the second and third drugs would cause significant pain to a still-conscious prisoner. The second question is whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees is applicable when states are using a different execution protocol than the one involved in Baze v. Rees. The third question is whether, if a state's protocol for lethal injection will violate the Eighth Amendment, the legal duty to propose a different drug falls upon the prisoner.
To discuss the case, we have John Stinneford, who is an Associate Professor of Law and Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Center at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Glossip v. Gross. The case turns on the efficacy of the first drug in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol, the subject of controversy after a highly publicized botched execution last year; critics claim that this drug is unable to reliably produce the deep, coma-like unconsciousness necessary to avoid the pain and suffering that can result from the administration of the second and third drugs, and that the protocol violates the Eighth Amendment because of this. Oral arguments were expected to be revealing as to whether the court will focus narrowly on the specific execution method in question or range more broadly over important constitutional issues related to the death penalty.
On April 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Johnson v. United States. This case concerns two questions. The first is whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The second question asks whether the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates that a minimum sentence of fifteen years be imposed upon someone who unlawfully possesses a firearm and has had three prior "violent felony" convictions--with the phrase “violent felony” including any crime that “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”--is unconstitutionally vague.
To discuss the case, we have Richard Myers who is the Henry Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law.