Tennessee’s new lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional because the procedure could pose a significant risk of “unnecessary pain,” a federal judge ruled yesterday, The Tennessean reports. The decision by Judge Aleta Trauger could delay all executions in the state unless a higher court intervenes.
In February, Gov. Phil Bredesen issued a 90-day moratorium on executions so that prison officials could rewrite the guidelines. The governor lifted the moratorium in
May. “Why is it cruel and unusual?” said Verna Wyatt, a victims’ rights advocate. “I would think it would be a lot less cruel and unusual than the electric chair, and the electric chair hasn’t been ruled cruel and unusual by the Supreme Court.” Brad MacLean, an attorney for death row inmates, said he hoped the state would not appeal the ruling, but would address “the serious flaws with the lethal injection protocol.”