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Supreme Court Refuses To Pause Alabama Execution Despite State’s History of Mishaps

The Supreme Court refused on Thursday to pause an Alabama execution to review whether the state’s procedures violate the Constitution. Because of Alabama's history with botched executions, condemned killer Jamie Mills unsuccessfully tried to convince justices that his attorney needed to be in the death chamber to make sure the state didn’t violate his Eighth Amendment rights, Courthouse News reports. “Currently, the risk of unnecessary torture is elevated in the State of Alabama,” Charlotte Morrison, Mills’ attorney had written in his petition. “Five of the last six executions have been marked by unnecessary and prolonged suffering.”  Two years ago, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey paused executions in the state after Kenneth Smith’s botched execution in 2022. Smith was repeatedly jabbed with needles while strapped to a gurney for four hours. Earlier this year, Smith was again brought into the death chamber and executed, in the nation's first oxygen deprivation execution

Yet Alabama's lawyers argued, successfully, that an execution stay was unnecessary and that his lawyer did not need to be in the chamber, because the state would not leave Mills restrained for an extended period while litigation was ongoing. “Even if Mills had a reasonable fear, the State’s interests in the safety, security, and solemnity of its executions would still justify excluding the condemned’s attorneys from the room,” Lauren Simpson, Alabama’s assistant attorney general, wrote in the state’s brief. 


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