Christopher Scott Emmett is scheduled for execution by lethal injection tomorrow Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to issue stay yesterday.Richmond—The ACLU of Virginia has asked Governor Tim Kaine to stop plans to execute death row inmate Christopher Scott Emmett tomorrow and to announce that no lethal injections will take place in Virginia until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the lethal injection process.
Several weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided to review the lethal injection process in Kentucky to determine if it violates the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The process used in Kentucky --a sequence of three drugs used to render the patient unconscious, paralyze him, and then stop his heart -- is the same process used by the Virginia Department of Corrections.
As experts have noted, undetected variations in the procedure can lead to cruel and painful experiences for inmates before they die. In some instances inmates may feel pain but be paralyzed and unable to convey their consciousness as they slowly suffocate and suffer the agonizing pain associated with death by the potassium chloride.
“This is a matter of using common sense and fair play to put a halt to a barbaric process, at least until the Supreme Court has a chance to review it,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Whatever your views are on capital punishment, you should be opposed to continued use of lethal injection.”
The ACLU has asked its members to contact the Governor to urge postponement of the execution of Emmett.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees, in January 2008 and is expected to rule by June. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Emmett’s request for a stay of his execution. Emmett’s lawyers will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay. All other lethal injection executions scheduled to take place since the Supreme Court’s September 25 decision to hear the Kentucky case have been stayed.
A copy of Willis’s letter to the Governor follows. More information is available online at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20071015-Emmett-execution.pdf, which provides links to detailed information on lethal injections and the Emmett cases.
Contact: Kent Willis, 804-644-8022