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State Supreme Court Rules On Lethal Injection Drug Lawsuit

Peter Balonon-Rosen
IPB News

Indiana can move forward with lethal injections following an Indiana Supreme Court ruling sanctioning the state’s use of a new lethal injection drug.

The Department of Correction chose a new lethal injection drug cocktail in 2014 – a combination never before used in this country. Death row inmate Roy Ward sued, arguing the DOC should have used an administrative rule-making process required by state law, open to public comment. And since it didn’t, Ward said the state can’t use the drug.

But a unanimous ruling from the state Supreme Court disagrees. Justice Christopher Goff writes the DOC’s decision to use a new drug cocktail doesn’t create a new rule, the kind that would require that public process. Instead, Goff says change the drug is an internal policy change that only affects DOC procedure, not any inmates.

In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill praised the Court's decision and called the lawsuit "an effort to impede the wheels of justice.”

“Thanks to the Court’s wisdom, however, the path is now clear once again toward a destination that is right and proper for those dangerous lawbreakers who commit society’s most heinous crimes,” Hill said.

Ward’s execution has not been scheduled.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.