Judges Stays Execution, Blasts Ohio’s Death Penalty

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U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost wrote a blistering report on Ohio's death penalty practice, writing that he has to micromanage executions and that the state "needs to do what it says it will do."(Photo: S. Falcow (Flickr))
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost wrote a blistering report on Ohio's death penalty practice, writing that he has to micromanage executions and that the state "needs to do what it says it will do."(Photo: S. Falcow (Flickr))

Ohio’s first scheduled execution of 2012 is on hold.

US District Judge Gregory Frost on Wednesday postponed the execution of 45-year-old Charles Lorraine of Youngstown, convicted of killing an elderly couple in Warren in 1986.

After a few botched executions, Ohio changed to a single-drug method of putting inmates to death in 2010. Frost has heard several appeals of inmates who’ve claimed the state’s way of performing executions is unconstitutional. Frost writes of his frustration in a blistering 23 -age opinion, saying “Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms.”

Frost also writes that the prisons department has lied to the court, and that because of endless lawsuits over the way executions are done, he feels he must “continually babysit the parties.”

Litigation would end and everyone could move on, Frost writes, “if Ohio would only do what it says it will do.”

For state public defender Tim Young, Frost’s ruling backs up what lawyers for death row inmates have been saying for years.

“Ohio gets to write its own rules. These rules aren’t subject to public comment. They’re not subject to outside influence. These rules are written by the Department of Corrections. They can say what they want, and then they choose not to follow their own rules,” said Young.

JoEllen Smith with the Department of Rehabilitations and Corrections says the agency disputes the judge’s decision.

“We believe that DRC performs executions in a constitutional and humane manner, and we will appeal.”

While the state did put five killers to death last year, the state delayed executions and made changes in the system after Frost criticized it. Lorraine was set to die by lethal injection next Wednesday after his plea for clemency was rejected by Gov. John Kasich.

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