Sixth Circuit Decision Allows Ohio to Resume Executions

On Wednesday, the en banc Sixth Circuit ruled 8-6 that Ohio may resume lethal injections using a three drug mixture that includes the controversial sedative midazolam. The ruling reverses the injunction issued in January, and upheld in April. 

The last execution in Ohio was in 2014, when Dennis McGuire struggled for over 20 minutes before dying. Wednesday's ruling was in response to a challenge by inmates Gary Otte, Ronald Phillips, and Raymond Tibbets. Phillips is scheduled to be executed July 26. The court said, "Phillips, Otte, and Tibbetts now claim that Ohio’s Execution Protocol would cause them to suffer severe pain in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In a sense the claim is unprecedented: the Supreme Court “has never invalidated a State’s chosen procedure for carrying out a sentence of death as the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment...The district court’s findings thus provide little support for its conclusion that Ohio’s three-drug protocol creates an unconstitutional risk of pain. "

The issue is far from settled. While this opens the door the allowing executions with the 3 drug method, Phillip's attorney, Allen Bohnert told the Columbus Dispatch that he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.