21 December 2006 :an appeals court in Maryland ruled that state executions cannot proceed until a legislative panel reviews parts of the manual that spell out the protocol for lethal injections.
The Maryland Court of Appeals said the manual was never given a public hearing or properly submitted to a joint committee before the Department of Corrections adopted it.
The ruling comes as states nationwide are scrutinizing lethal injection procedures. Last week, a moratorium was placed on executions in Florida after a lethal injection was botched. Executions also are halted in Missouri and California because of lethal injection concerns.
The manual defines which drugs are used in a lethal injection and how the injection occurs. Like many states, Maryland uses three drugs during executions. Sodium pentothal makes the inmate unconscious, pancurium bromide paralyzes the inmate's breathing, and potassium chloride stops the heart.
The court said that the protocol outlined in the manual appears to be consistent with state law, but that the legislative committee charged with reviewing the protocol "may have a different view." Under state law, lawmakers must review the protocol before it is approved.
There are five men on Maryland's death row, and there are no other executions currently scheduled. The last inmate to be executed in the state was Wesley E. Baker on Dec. 5, 2005.