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News > Local News > Change to Indiana's Lethal Injection "Cocktail" Leaves Executions in Limbo

Change to Indiana's Lethal Injection "Cocktail" Leaves Executions in Limbo

Supreme Court hears arguments on whether public hearings were needed for new drug combo

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Supreme Court is deciding whether the state's execution method needs to be rewritten.

The Department of Correction changed the drug cocktail used to administer lethal injection. But the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a Death Row inmate that the department needed to hold public hearings first -- that process takes six-to-10 months. 

Deputy Attorney General Stephen Creason contends state law explicitly leaves it to the department's discretion whether to hold hearings if it changes the execution protocol. And Justice Mark Massa asked defense attorney David Frank point-blank whether the challenge is simply "an opportunity to throw sand in the wheels." 

But Chief Justice Loretta Rush notes the prison system does hold hearings on regulations as trivial as licensing requirements for prison barbers and how often sheets and blankets are changed.

At the center of the case is whether the execution procedure constitutes a "rule." Past cases have said hearings aren't necessary for rules which primarily affect department employees.

The lower court ruling would put all executions in limbo if there were any scheduled, but only one Indiana Death Row inmate has exhausted his appeals, and he doesn't have an execution date. 

The challenge involves the case of Roy Ward, who's been on Death Row since 2004 for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl after breaking into her house in Dale.

(Photo: Ashley Fowler/WIBC)

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