Death Penalty

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Federal death-row inmate Orlando Hall was executed Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an execution stay issued by a federal judge who said the government needed a prescription for the execution drug.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented from the Supreme Court order allowing the execution to proceed, report SCOTUSblog and the New York Times. They did not explain their dissent.

The Supreme Court also denied three emergency requests to postpone Hall’s execution that were filed over the past two days, according to SCOTUSblog. One of the emergency requests concerned prosecutors’ use of peremptory challenges to strike four out of five Black jurors. The fifth was eliminated by the defense because of her strong support for the death penalty. Hall is Black.

One of the prosecutors, Paul Macaluso, told the New York Times that Hall would have been sentenced to death even if his case wasn’t tried by an all-white jury.

Hall was convicted for his role in the death of a 16-year-old girl, Lisa René, who was kidnapped and buried alive in 1994.

Hall is the eighth federal inmate to be executed by the Trump administration. The ABA had asked President Donald Trump to delay the execution of Hall and two other inmates because the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting “due process, lawyers’ ability to advocate zealously for their clients, and lawyers’ individual health and safety.”

The ABA said Orlando’s lawyers had not been able to visit him.

A federal judge granted a delay in the case of one of the other inmates, Lisa Montgomery, because her lawyers contracted COVID-19 after visiting her in prison. One of the lawyers was in the emergency room Wednesday night for treatment of high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate, a spokesperson for the legal team told the New York Times.