Glossip v. Gross

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: January 23, 2015
  • Case #: 14-7955
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 2015 WL 137627 (10th Cir.)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether Oklahoma's prisoner execution protocols violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Petitioners are sentenced to death in Oklahoma for murder. Respondent previously employed a three-drug system to administer lethal injections. The first drug would render the executee insensate during the injection of the second and third drugs, which accomplished the execution. Respondent’s first drug of choice recently became unavailable and they have been forced to use a new one. After an execution went awry in April 2014, due in large part to botched procedure, Respondent revised their execution procedures. Petitioners sued, challenging the constitutionality of the new drug and the new procedure. They claim that both the new drug and the new procedures violate the Eighth Amendment. Petitioners argue that the Midazolam, the new drug, is not suitable for anesthesia due to a couple of its properties. They also argue that the new procedures, which leave some choice of procedure to the warden, constitute human experimentation on unwilling subjects. Because their execution dates were fast approaching, Petitioners also moved for preliminary injunctions.

The trial court ruled that Petitioners were unlikely to succeed on the merits and denied the preliminary injunctions. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. They found that the Petitioners were indeed unable to show a likelihood of success on the merits.

While the Supreme Court refused a delay of the inmates executions on January 15, they have granted certiorari.

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