A federal judge delayed next week’s execution of a man who stabbed to death an elderly couple, saying the state had once again failed to follow its own rules for executions.
U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost said he does not want to micromanage Ohio executions but said the Department of Corrections has left him no choice by disobeying his previous orders. Charles Lorraine was scheduled to die by injection on January 18.
Judge Frost said the state failed to document the drugs used in its last execution in November and failed to check the medical chart of the inmate.
He scolded the state in his opinion by saying if Ohio would do a better job of explaining why it might deviate from its policies, it might not be in this position.
“Do not lie to the Court, do not fail to do what you tell this Court you must do, and do not place the Court in the position of being required to change course in this litigation after every hearing,” he wrote. “Today’s adverse decision against Defendants is again a curiously if not inexplicably self-inflicted wound.”
The prisons system and the Ohio attorney general’s office are reviewing the decision. The state has usually appealed similar decisions by Judge Frost to the Sixth Circuit Court.
Judge Frost acknowledged that the state’s departures from the rules seemed minor, but that Lorraine’s attorney had provided evidence that they mattered. He said the issue was the state’s failure to follow its own protocol to the letter, not the seriousness of any violations.
An inmate’s medical status has been an issue since 2009, when executioners tried unsuccessfully to insert needles into an inmate’s veins before the execution was called off. Inmate Romell Broom remains on death row.
Executioners also failed to “document the name or description, the expiration date, and the lot number of the execution drugs used” in Brooks’ execution, Judge Frost said.
“Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms,” he said.
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