Attorney General Ken Paxton today joined a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Missouri in its death penalty lethal injection protocol case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Convicted murderer Russell Bucklewclaims he has a constitutional right to alternative methods of execution, arguing that lethal gas is preferable to the state of Missouri’s current method of injection of a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
“The states have a solemn duty of enforcing the death penalty enacted by their legislatures,” Attorney General Paxton said. “If prisoners are allowed to bring claims challenging methods of execution without satisfying the Supreme Court’s settled requirement to identify an alternative, the states would undoubtedly face a flood of lengthy and costly lawsuits resulting in indefinite delays of executions.”
In their brief, Attorney General Paxton and his counterparts expressed concern that the available means to carry out lethal injection executions are already shrinking due to efforts by death penalty opponents to limit the supply of execution drugs. “Prisoners would challenge each alternative method subsequently adopted by the state as lacking in some way due to the prisoner’s unique anatomy, history, or combination of conditions,” they wrote.
Bucklew was convicted of the 1996 murder in Missouri of a man who was living with Bucklew’s ex-girlfriend. Bucklew killed the man, kidnapped and raped his former girlfriend, shot at her 6-year-old son and wounded a police officer before he was apprehended. He then escaped from jail and attacked his ex-girlfriend’s mother and her fiancé with a hammer.
Attorney General Paxton joins the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming in filing today’s friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court.
View a copy of the brief here.