The State of Alabama has moved for execution dates for four Alabama death row prisoners since the United States Supreme Court ruled last month that Kentucky’s lethal injection procedure does not violate the Constitution.
In the Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees, lower courts had heard and considered evidence about Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol before the case reached the United States Supreme Court. Because no Alabama court has considered evidence about Alabama’s lethal injection protocol, whether this state’s method of execution is constitutional remains an open question.
The four Alabama inmates for whom the State is seeking execution dates are Tommy Arthur, Jimmy Dill, Phillip Hallford, and Willie McNair.
A lawsuit about Alabama’s protocol currently is pending in federal district court. In November 2007, the federal judge presiding over the suit ruled that the case should go to trial and noted the benefit of “allowing – for the first time – an orderly consideration of the lethal injection protocol.” The trial was postponed while Baze was pending at the Supreme Court, and the judge is now deciding how to proceed in light of the Baze decision.