U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

SCOTUS Rejects Electric Chair Appeal, Sotomayor Dissents

In a lonely dissent, Justice Sotomayor explained that she believes her colleagues made a mistake in not taking up the matter of Edmund Zagorski.

Zagorski became the first person to be executed in the electric chair in five years in this country, and that was due to the fact that the lethal injection couldn't be proven to be painless, given the recent troubles we've all seen and read about. In short, while lethal injection was once believed to be a painless process, it is now understood to feel like being burned alive from the inside out while drowning and suffocating (for as long as 18 minutes).

Sotomayor: The Chair Is Cruel and Unusual

According to Sotomayor, and particularly given the description of how it feels, the electric chair is barbaric and cruel and usual, and should not be used, period. Even the designer of the electric chair believes the device is not a humane way to kill due to the high risk of malfunction.

Apparently, given how the execution actually went, because, yes, it already happened, Zagorski had to be jolted twice. Sadly, he could be seen breathing after the first jolt, and broke a finger due to his straining from the shock.

And adding a little levity to the gruesome display, Zagorski's reported last words were "Let's rock."

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