Arizona Ignores Trial Judge, Kills Prisoner

October 27, 2010

The death penalty in this case is not appropriate and never has been.”

That’s what former judge Cheryl Hendrix told Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency in support of Jeffrey Landrigan’s effort to have his death sentence commuted.  What’s important about judge Hendrix is that she is the one who sentenced him to death.  New information that Landrigan’s lawyer failed to present at the trial convinced her that the death sentence she issued had been wrong.  

Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, had already ruled that this new information would NOT have made a difference.  That turned out to be flat wrong, but an erroneous Supreme Court ruling that still trumps everything else. The Arizona Board split 2-2 vote, but that, and Governor Jan Brewer, was enough to keep the execution process rolling. 

Landrigan’s attorneys also attempted to shine a light on the secretive practices of Arizona’s execution team (which now apparently includes an un-named British pharmaceutical company).  Had they been successful, this would have been a great public service.  Why should a public agency with the power to kill people be allowed to operate in the dark?

But that effort was not successful, thanks to another 5-4 US Supreme Court vote.  The non-FDA approved drugs acquired from Great Britain appeared to work as the executioners wanted, and, late last night, Arizona carried out a death sentence that “is not appropriate and never has been.