LOUISIANA (USA): EXECUTIONS ON HOLD UNTIL AT LEAST 2018
May 31, 2016: Federal judge James Brady delayed for 18 months proceedings on the constitutionality of Louisiana's death penalty procedures, as well as the execution of Christopher Sepulvado.
Sepulvado and another death-row inmate, Jessie Hoffman, are named in the filing, but the ruling affects all inmates on death row. The state can't execute anyone until its method is examined in federal court as part of a lawsuit brought by the inmates against the state Department of Corrections.
The new court order was issued with the consent of the parties in federal proceedings challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana's lethal injection process. The state is now scheduled to describe its execution method on January 8, 2018.
Attorney General Jeff Landry asked for the extension because the facts of the case are in a "fluid state" and it would be "a waste of resources and time to litigate this matter at present time." The request marked the third time in two years that the state has asked to delay the trial. In June 2015, after the state's execution drugs had expired, its lawyers told the court that Louisiana lacked the drugs necessary to carry out executions.
In February, the Louisiana Department of Corrections indicated that the state still did not have the drugs needed to conduct an execution. Previously, in 2013, the state had considered purchasing execution drugs from a Tulsa, Oklahoma, compounding pharmacy that was not licensed to provide drugs to any pharmacy in Louisiana, making any purchase of drugs from that company by the Louisiana State Penitentiary Pharmacy illegal under state law. That compounding pharmacy, which secretly sold execution drugs to Missouri during the same period, was implicated in nearly 2,000 violations of Oklahoma pharmacy regulations. The state later obtained one of the execution drugs it needed from a hospital in Lake Charles, misrepresenting to the hospital that it needed the drugs for medical purposes. Louisiana's protocol allows for either a one-drug execution using pentobarbital, or a two-drug execution using midazolam and hydromorphone.
The state does not have the drugs necessary for either option, according to a spokesperson for the Depatment of Corrections. Louisiana's last execution was in 2010.
Attorney General Jeff Landry's office asked U.S. District Judge James Brady to extend an earlier order that kept Christopher Sepulvado's execution on hold. Brady's order only applies to five death-row inmates who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Louisiana's method of lethal injection. But others can join the litigation if an execution date is set. Shauna Sanford, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Bel Edwards, said the administration supports Landry's request for the delay. The state corrections department has said it doesn't have the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection. (Source: The Lens, 31/05/2016)