An Arizona inmate a few weeks away from execution argued the state's clemency board was unfairly loaded with law enforcement. A judge disagreed, saying that law enforcement does not meet the definition of a "profession." This month, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an execution warrant – the first in eight years – for Clarence Wayne Dixon, 66. Dixon's attorneys argue that the Arizona Board of Clemency, which is set to meet Thursday to decide whether to stay the execution, is illegally made up of too many members with careers in law enforcement, NPR reports. Last week, Maricopa County Judge Stephen Hopkins ruled against Dixon. "Historically, law enforcement has not been thought of as a "profession," he said. "It is not regulated as other professions are, and has little of the characteristics of what is typically considered a profession."
Arizona law prohibits "No more than two members from the same professional discipline" from serving on the clemency board at the same time. The current board is made up of: one former superior court commissioner and assistant attorney general; a former federal agent with over 30 years' experience; a retired officer who spent 30 years with the Phoenix Police Department; and a 20-plus-year detective. The fifth seat s currently vacant. Dixon was serving seven life sentences for the 1985 kidnapping, rape and assault of a Northern Arizona University student when investigators connected him with a murder that took place seven years earlier. A jury sentenced Dixon to death in 2008. Dixon's execution would be the first in Arizona since the botched execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood in 2014. Wood's execution should have taken a matter of minutes, but the prisoner took more than two hours to die.