Appeals Court Reviews Va. Lethal Injections, Considers 'Excruciating Death'
A federal appeals court considered yesterday whether Virginia’s method of lethal injection is constitutional.
The oral arguments before the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were the first to be held at the appellate level since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Kentucky’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail in April, the Washington Post reports.
In the Virginia case, lawyers for death row inmate Christopher Emmett contend the drug used to make inmates unconscious is given in too small a dose and without sufficient time to take effect, the story says. The lawyers want the case sent back to a trial judge for further review.
Lawyers for the state contend Virginia’s lethal injection procedure is constitutional because it is virtually the same as Kentucky’s.
One judge on the 4th Circuit panel, Roger Gregory, was aggressive in questioning lawyers for the state, according to the Post account. “We know that Virginia is effective at death because all of these inmates have died,” he said. “The question is, are you effective at preventing the excruciating death?”