Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court after it rejected a death row inmate’s challenge to Missouri’s plan to execute him by lethal injection. Last August, Attorney General Paxton led a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in defense of Missouri’s lethal injection protocol.
Convicted murderer Russell Bucklew claimed that his execution by lethal injection would be unconstitutional because it would cause him severe harm and suffering due to a rare medical condition. But the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that inmates challenging a particular method of execution must show that an alternative method is readily available and would significantly reduce the risk of severe pain.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is important in allowing the states to proceed with the solemn duty of enforcing the death penalty enacted by their legislatures,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Had the court ruled otherwise, it would have invited death row inmates to challenge each alternative execution method subsequently adopted by the state as lacking in some way, resulting in a flood of costly lawsuits and lengthy delays in executions.”
As the Supreme Court noted, Bucklew’s appeals have already gone on for decades.
Bucklew was convicted of the 1996 murder in Missouri of a man who was living with Bucklew’s ex-girlfriend. Bucklew killed the man, shot at his six-year-old son, kidnapped and raped his former girlfriend, 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.
View a copy of the ruling here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-8151_1qm2.pdf