Nebraska judge rejects challenge to death penalty procedure
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge has tossed out a lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol.
The move marks the second time in recent months that a court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block Nebraska’s efforts to resume executions after more than two decades.
Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret ruled last week that two death penalty opponents who filed the lawsuit lacked standing to do so.
Sen. Ernie Chambers and Rev. Stephen Griffith alleged in their suit that Nebraska’s execution protocol was developed without following state law and procedures. They asked the court to stop any executions until a proper protocol is implemented.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s office had argued that Griffith and Chambers lacked standing in the case because they aren’t on death row.
Danielle Conrad, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska’s director, said a judge should determine whether Nebraska authorities complied with the law when adopting the new execution procedure, which was revised in 2016 and finalized last year.
“We are disappointed in today’s decision dismissing this important case on procedural grounds,” she said. “We will confer with our clients to determine how to proceed and will actively explore all options, including an appeal.”
The ACLU is appealing an earlier dismissal of allegations that Gov. Pete Ricketts violated the Constitution by leading and funding a voter referendum that overturned the 2015 repeal of capital punishment.
The latest lawsuit dismissal follows a request last month from state Attorney General Doug Peterson. He asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to speed up its decision on issuing a death warrant for the state’s longest-serving death-row inmate, Carey Dean Moore. Moore was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.
Nebraska hasn’t executed an inmate since 1997, when the state’s execution method was the electric chair.