The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta lifted the stay of execution order in the case of Manuel Valle, allowing Valle’s twice-delayed execution to move forward. This paves the way for Governor Rick Scott to reschedule Valle’s execution. Scott has 10 days to order the execution after a stay is lifted.
Valle is still hoping that pleadings pending in federal court in Jacksonville and before the U.S. Supreme Court will delay his execution yet again.
On Monday July 25, 2011 the Florida Supreme court determined that Manuel Valle, convicted of killing a police officer, had valid concerns regarding the new death penalty drug. As a result, Valle’s death sentence has been postponed until September 1. In general, an inmate’s concerns elsewhere have not put a stop to executions.
According to an article published by Reuters, the Supreme Court determined that “[Valle] has raised a factual dispute, not conclusively refuted as to whether the use of pentobarbital in Florida’s lethal injection protocol will subject him to a ‘substantial risk of serious harm.’”
What is the difference between pentobarbital and sodium thiopental(the drug previously used)?
Not much except that Pentobarbital is often used to euthanize animals. The reason many correctional facilities are using the drug is because there is a shortage of sodium thiopental and it will not be made by U.S. manufacturers any more.
Valle’s lawyer’s argued that pentobarbital will subject him to substantial harm. It isn’t uncommon in recent days that a criminal defense attorney will argue the risk of harm to postpone a sentence.
Currently, Florida’s death sentence policy is different than all other states in the US. Although some states have modified versions, Florida is the only state that allows the jury to recommend either the death penalty or life in prison decided on by majority vote. The judge then takes the recommendation into consideration but does not have to agree.
Last week in Miami, a Federal judge declared that Florida’s death sentence was unconstitutional because jurors are not required to explain what specific part of evidence they based their decision on. This is just one example of a situation where having a lawyer familiar with the Federal criminal code and Federal criminal sentencing could be beneficial.
According to an article from Tampa Bay Online, the ruling applies only to a specific case of a murderer currently on Florida’s Death Row, but there is reason to believe that this will spark many more challenges in the future.
So this brings us to the “hot topic” question… will this ruling have any effect on the outcome of the Casey Anthony case? The Anthony defense sure hopes so. Since word of Wednesday’s ruling from the Miami judge, Anthony’s defense team has “filed a motion to have the Florida death penalty declared unconstitutional.”
Anthony’s defense team decided to challenge the current death penalty days after their motion for a ruling of competence was disregarded. Three different psychologists saw Anthony and according to their findings, she is competent and the trial will proceed on Friday, and now on Monday news breaks that they have filed the motion. Coincidence?
UPDATE 7/6/11: With the acquittal yesterday of all murder charges, it isn’t applicable to the Casey Anthony case any longer.