Does a second execution attempt violate constitutional rights? Ohio Supreme Court to decide

The Ohio Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in a failed execution case. According to a case synopsis by Court News Ohio, Romell Broom was convicted of the aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping of a 14-year-old Cleveland girl in 1985. He was sentenced to death. In September 2009 the State attempted to execute Broom, but the execution team was unable to place IV lines after trying for nearly two hours. At the request of prison officials, the governor stayed the execution for 7 days.

During that time Broom filed in federal court and was granted a stay of execution. He then filed for post-conviction relief in state court, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. The trial court denied this petition and the 8th District affirmed. Broom then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to take the case and hear three of the issues of law described in his Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction. These are: Under the US and Ohio Constitutions, (1) Whether another attempt to execute Broom is cruel and unusual punishment, (2) Whether the lower courts denied him due process in the way that they handled his claims, and (3) Whether a second attempt at execution counts as double jeopardy.

Among the legal arguments are questions of whether the first execution actually counts as an attempt; Broom argues that it does, the State says that it does not, since no lethal medications were given. There is also disagreement about O.R.C. 2949.22(A), which requires a “lethal injection of sufficient dosage to quickly and painlessly cause death.” The State argues that neither this statute or Supreme Court precedent guarantees pain-free executions, and holding a second execution after the first is interrupted by an accident isn't inherently cruel.

The online docket for the case, with briefs and other filings is available, here. Salon.com and the Columbus Dispatch have also recently published articles discussing the case.

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