There hasn’t been an execution in Ohio in nearly 39 months, and it looks like the wait might be extended. A 2-1 decision by a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday blocked Ohio executions, which had been scheduled to resume May 10 with Ronald Phillips, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The panel supported a ruling by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael Merz that barred the state from using a three-drug protocol announced last fall.
The federal court panel said the state cannot use the paralytic drugs cited in the execution protocol released Oct. 6 by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The ruling confirmed problems with a sedative drug, midazolam, used in the troubled execution of Dennis McGuire in 2014 and in lethal injections in other states. “We are bound by the district court’s actual finding that ‘use of midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug execution protocol will create a substantial risk of serious harm,’” the appellate panel said. The judges chided the state for making “false representations that there was ‘no possibility’ the state would use those drugs ‘going forward.’ ” Allen Bohnert, a federal public defender representing Phillips, said, “Ohio should conduct no more executions until it is able to develop a lethal-injection protocol that will comport with all state and federal laws.”