“Operational Procedure No. 770,” California’s name for execution by lethal injection, is done in a dark, cramped room by people who know little about the deadly drugs they inject under extreme stress, says the Los Angeles Times. Thousands of pages of depositions and four days of testimony last week in a San Jose federal court provided the most intimate portrait yet of lethal injection methods.
Witnesses depicted executions by lethal injection as almost haphazard events, and medical experts on both sides could not rule out the possibility that one or more inmates had been conscious and experienced an excruciating sensation of drowning or strangulation before death. U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel is reviewing the case to determine if the state can continue lethal injection executions or if it should revise procedures to ensure the condemned don’t suffer cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution. Lawyers for the state defended the executioners, stressing it was much less complicated than medicine. An execution is supposed to be punishment, the attorneys argued.