Supreme Court hears arguments on Oklahoma lethal injection procedure

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments  in two cases Wednesday. In Glossip v. Gross the court heard arguments on whether Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The case originated when four death row inmates filed a complaint [complaint, PDF] against the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections [official website] for the use of the midazolam drug in the state’s lethal injection protocol, alleging that the drug can cause a substantial risk of “severe pain, needless suffering, and a lingering death.” The inmates also alleged that a negligent administering of the drug can cause one to be conscious for the remainder of the lethal injection process, as evidenced by Oklahoma’s botched execution of former inmate Clayton Lockett [JURIST report].

In Mata v. Lynch [transcript, PDF] the court heard arguments on whether a federal appeals court has jurisdiction over denials by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of requests to equitably toll motions to reopen. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that it had no jurisdiction to review petitioner’s request that the BIA equitably toll the 90-day deadline on his motion to reopen as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel under 8 CFR § 1003.2(c)(2) [text]. Wednesday’s arguments mark the last of the current term.

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