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Court considers another death penalty stay

UPDATE 2: Just before he was to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Callahan’s stay.

UPDATE: As of the close of business for DC Dicta (about 5:30 p.m.) no order has come down from the Supreme Court.

Today Alabama death row inmate James Harvey Callahan could be executed by lethal injection. That is, unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in and grants his request to stay the execution pending the court’s decision in Baze v. Rees, which challenges whether the current three-drug combination used in lethal injection executions amounts to cruel and unusual punishment (Lawyers USA subscribers can read the archive story on oral arguments in the case here).

On Dec. 14, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins stayed the execution of Callahan, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a college student in 1982, until the high court ruled in Baze. But yesterday the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay, clearing the way for Callahan to be executed today. Yesterday, Callahan petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution, and the Court could rule at any moment.

More updates to come.

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