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Court: Indiana death penalty protocol ‘void’

June 1, 2017

Indiana’s means of carrying out the death penalty through lethal injection “is void and without effect,” the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, reversing a death row inmate’s challenge to the Department of Correction’s execution protocol.

Judge John Baker wrote for the court the Department of Correction was bound to enact new lethal-injection protocols under the state’s Administrative Rules and Procedure Act, subject to public comment, which it did not do. Failing to do so voids a protocol DOC adopted in May 2014, the court ruled, tossing out the state’s means of execution via a fatal three-drug cocktail that has never been used in any state or federal execution.

“Finding the General Assembly has not exempted the DOC from ARPA and that the statutory definition of ‘rule’ clearly includes the DOC’s execution protocols, we reverse,” Baker wrote for the Court in Roy Lee Ward v. Robert E. Carter, Jr., Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, and Ron Neal, Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison, in their official capacities, 46A03-1607-PL-1685.

The ruling remands the case brought by Ward to LaPorte Circuit Court, where Judge Thomas J. Alevizos previously dismissed the suit.

Ward was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2001 rape and murder of 15-year-old Stacy Payne in Spencer County. He is one of 12 people on Indiana’s death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.

This story will be updated.

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