U.S. Supreme Court Stays Execution of Tommy Arthur in Alabama


Today the United States Supreme Court granted Tommy Arthur’s request to stay his execution, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 6, 2007, at 6:00 p.m. This is the fifth time the Court has halted an execution since it agreed in September to address the constitutionality of lethal injection. No person who filed a lethal injection challenge has been executed since the Court granted review in Baze v. Rees.

Mr. Arthur requested the stay to give the Court adequate time to review his petition for writ of certiorari, which challenges Alabama’s lethal injection protocol. Alabama uses the same lethal injection method as the Kentucky protocol that the Court will address in Baze.

Mr. Arthur previously was scheduled to be executed on September 27, 2007, but received a 45-day reprieve from the governor due to concerns about Alabama’s lethal injection protocol.

Although executions were being put on hold around the country pending the Court’s decision in Baze, the Alabama Supreme Court nonetheless granted the State’s request for a new execution date for Mr. Arthur. The state court ordered Mr. Arthur’s December 6 execution just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court stopped an execution in a Mississippi case raising a lethal injection challenge.

Since the grant of review in Baze, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted stays in four cases where lower courts declined to grant relief: Mark Schwab in Florida (Nov. 15, 2007); Earl Berry in Mississippi (Oct. 30, 2007); Christopher Emmett in Virginia (Oct. 17, 2007); and Carlton Turner in Texas (Sept. 27, 2007).