Four people who volunteered to administer lethal injections to death-row inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary quit their positions, apparently worried that their identities could become public as a result of an ongoing court case to decide whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, reports the Seattle Times. The four resigned Tuesday, which was the deadline Thurston County Judge Chris Wickham had set for the team’s records — detailing the members’ credentials, qualifications, and experience in administering lethal drugs — to be submitted for his review. The state is now without a lethal-injection team, and it’s unclear what effect the resignations will have on the court proceedings.
A suit by death-row inmate Darold Stenson, sentenced to die in 1994 for killing his wife and business partner, argues that lethal injection can result in excruciating pain if not administered correctly. The resignations are “a surprising and disturbing development,” said Scott Englehard, the attorney representing another inmate. “This issue has nothing to do with guarding their identities.” Englehard said the plaintiff’s attorneys already agreed that no identifying information related to the team members would be disclosed.