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U.S. Supreme Court

Inmate who claims his medical problem will result in a painful execution wins SCOTUS stay

Posted May 22, 2014 7:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution to a death-row inmate who had sought to videotape his execution.

The court sent the case of Russell Bucklew, 46, back to the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.

According to the Times, the U.S. Supreme Court is usually reluctant to grant last-minute execution stays. The action “could indicate a growing cautiousness among the justices in the wake of recent executions that went awry,” the newspaper says.

Bucklew claims he has vascular tumors and malformed blood vessels that are likely to result in hemorrhaging and choking in an execution by lethal injection. His lawyers had filed a motion to videotape the execution for use in future litigation, but the request was denied.

The U.S. Supreme Court acted (PDF) a day after Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. halted the impending execution.

One of Bucklew’s lawyers, Cheryl Pilate, said in a statement that they are “extremely pleased and relieved” by the court’s action.

Pilate says her client “faced a great likelihood of a prolonged and tortuous execution because of [his] unique and severe medical condition.” Before Alito granted the stay, the en banc 8th Circuit had lifted a stay imposed by a three-judge appellate panel.

Bucklew was convicted of a 1996 slaying that ended in a shoot-out with police. Prosecutors said Bucklew also fired at the shooting victim’s son, and raped and abducted his former girlfriend.

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