The State of Ohio tried to execute Romell Broom, convicted of the brutal 1984 rape and murder of a 14 year-old girl, on Tuesday, but had to call off the procedure after technicians attempting to administer the lethal cocktail of drugs couldn't find a suitable vein.
Now, Broom's attorneys have filed an application with the US Supreme Court asking the Court to review an earlier denial of Broom's application to join an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging Ohio's lethal injection procedure.
Broom's lawyers also stated that they plan to file state and federal appeals in which they will argue that the second execution attempt violates their client's civil rights. The filings come at an interesting juncture in the Supreme Court's
death penalty jurisprudence. Last month, the Court ruled that Troy
Davis, an inmate on Georgia's death row, was entitled to an evidentiary hearing based on his claims that he was actually innocent of the murder of an off-duty police officer.
The Court rejected claims in a suit last year that Kentucky's lethal
injection system posed an unconstitutional risk of severe pain,
however. The claims in that lawsuit are very similar to the claims in
the litigation that Broom has tried to join.
The Court, in a 7-2 decision, determined that Kentucky's lethal
injection protocol did not violate the Eighth Amendment. While the
case didn't put an end to future challenges like the one Broom wants to
join, it did set the bar quite high for those wishing to change the
lethal injection systems used by most states to what they feel is a
more humane method.
Broom's unusual case has enflamed passions
on both sides of the death penalty debate, with opponents like the ACLU
calling for an end to lethal injection executions because of problems
with Broom's procedure and with two earlier executions where
technicians struggled to find veins.
Death penalty supporters, on the other hand, have expressed
indifference to Broom's situation. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill
Mason had this to say:
It is ironic to hear a 53-year-old man and his attorney whine about
being pricked with a needle when he is being executed for brutally
raping and murdering a 14-year-old child by plunging a knife seven
times into her chest.
It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court agrees to hear
Broom's arguments, although it's safe to say that the argument over the
death penalty isn't going anywhere anytime soon.