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US judges chide colleagues over execution concerns

Some federal judges say their colleagues should take notice of the suffering of crime victims, not just the possibility that an inmate being executed may feel pain.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday refused to block an Arizona execution, rejecting a challenge that injection methods could cause unconstitutional pain and suffering for inmates.

Several judges’ dissents cited the possibility of pain during injections, but three other judges said Friday that such concerns are groundless and misdirected.

The three judges said there’s always going to a risk of pain in an execution but that suffering experienced by Lopez’s victim must not be ignored.

The victim was gagged, blindfolded, sexually assaulted and stabbed at least 26 times.

Another court blocked Lopez’s scheduled execution because of another issue.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

2 comments

  1. In reading the above article, shouldn’t the word “unconstiutional” in front of the words “pain” and”suffering” trigger a concern when considered by a group of judges? The defendant has already been found guilty. The execution is the punishment that has been ordered and has nothing whatsoever to do with the victims. It is the process by which the punishment will be carried out.

    Several years ago, I heard Justice Ryan, formerly of the Arizona Supreme Court, tell an audience that the “purpose of the (Arizona) Supreme Court is to protect public safety”" Sorry, Judge. As politely as I could, I reminded him,”No, the purpose of the Supreme Court is to protect individual rights.” Including the rights of convicted criminals. That’s how the Constitution is written, fellas.

    This issue has the same quality to it. If it quacks, it is a duck. If it is unconstitutional, then the Court needs to intervene without regard to whatever other emotional (or politically correct) issues are involved. That’s why we have that lady with the blindfold and the evenly balanced set of scales.

    I am not uncaring about or unsympathetic to victims. Their suffering is unfathomable, especially in cases where the death penalty is invoked against the perpetrator. But we don’t allow victims’ families, the defendant’s family or other biased individuals to set the sentence. And such individuals are not supposed to carry out the sentence either. If the method of execution is likely to cause “unconstitutional pain and suffering” then the Court must not try to figure out if the victim’s family or representatives are feeling more pain than would be inflicted on the defendant by using cruel methods of execution.

    What an absurd — and chilling — ruling from the Court!

  2. Donna Leone Hamm, Thank you for properly informing the public and reminding those who determine who shall live and who shall die of the Constitution, which seems to have been tossed out of Arizona.

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