A challenge to Georgia’s “Lethal Injection Secrecy Act“ has led the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta to extend Warren Hill’s stay of execution. An appeal from the state of Georgia won’t be filed in time and his execution warrant will expire.
The secrecy law, which went into effect July 1, allows the state to withhold from the courts information about the drugs they intend to use in executions. This, of course, makes it impossible for the courts to determine if said drugs will be effective enough to prevent excessive pain and suffering that would render the execution a “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the constitution.
There is also a “separation of powers” question: can the executive and legislative branches of government set up a system that keeps the judicial branch in the dark about the most awesome and extreme power the state can wield? In other words, is it OK that the public and the courts are denied information they need to ensure that the law is upheld and that human rights and constitutional rights are protected?
It is unclear why Georgia authorities are in such a rush to kill Warren Hill, given that he has a petition pending at the U.S. Supreme Court, and given that several of the trial jurors and the victim’s family now oppose the execution. Hill’s petition, on the question of his “mental retardation” and the consequent unconstitutionality of his execution, is due to be considered by the Supreme Court on September 30.
It now appears possible that Warren Hill might still be alive then.