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MS Capital Case Could Clear Up Moratorium Debate

Posted Oct 30, 2007 7:05 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court must consider today whether to grant a stay to a Mississippi inmate who didn’t challenge the state’s lethal injection procedures until Oct. 18.

The court’s action could indicate whether the court intends to halt all executions pending a decision on lethal injection in a Kentucky case, the New York Times reports. Observers are divided on whether a de facto moratorium is in place.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had refused to consider the challenge by inmate Earl Berry, saying “death-sentenced inmates may not wait until execution is imminent before filing an action to enjoin a state’s method of carrying it out.”

The 5th Circuit decision “clearly presents an issue of federal procedural law for the Supreme Court to address, whether a challenge to an execution method on the eve of a scheduled execution must be dismissed as untimely,” the newspaper writes.

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