Arizona Death Penalty Case Continues: State Has Not Promised To Rule Out Future Midazolam Use

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 5:15pm
Arizona Department of Corrections
The death chamber at Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence.

Parties in the lawsuit over the state’s death penalty protocol met in federal court Wednesday for a hearing. The drug midazolam Arizona previously used in a botched execution was the topic of discussion.

The hearing centered around a core issue – whether or not the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) could promise it would never use midazolam again, under any circumstance.

Currently, the state’s supply of the lethal injection drug is expired, and it cannot get any more.

Lawyers for the DOC argue because of those reasons and because the state has removed midazolam from execution procedures, the case is moot.

Lawyers representing the seven inmates on Arizona’s death row said it’s not, because the DOC can change policy back whenever they feel, and refuses to say it would never use the drug, if there were different circumstances.

“We’re surprised, frankly, that the state of Arizona would not say, today, that it will not use midazolam, period, going forward regardless of whether it’s available or not,” said plaintiff lawyer Mark Haddad.

The state said it would consider "tightening up" how procedures can be changed by the DOC.

The federal judge gave the state 30 days to explain how it won’t be able to use midazolam in the future.

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