Attorneys for condemned Idaho inmate Paul Ezra Rhoades have filed an emergency appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking a stay of his execution while his legal challenge to Idaho's three-drug lethal injection method of execution proceeds in court. A U.S. District Court magistrate judge in Idaho rejected Rhoades' bid for a stay yesterday, concluding in part that a stay would not be in the public interest. Rhoades has exhausted all his appeals from the 1987 eastern Idaho murders for which he was convicted and sentenced to die; the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last one last month.
In their 33-page brief, Rhoades' attorneys wrote, “The strong public interest is in an orderly and deliberate decision of the important issues raised. If Idaho is to exact the ultimate penalty, it should only do so in a humane manner, without inflicting severe and unnecessary pain on the condemned inmate.” They argue that Idaho hasn't proven its team that will inject the lethal drugs is sufficiently trained to do so properly, and that improper administration could result in severe pain.
In other developments in the case, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Ron Bush yesterday rejected Rhoades' bid for a stay of execution, he also rejected another last-minute motion for a stay filed by Rhoades' attorneys on Sunday. Also, all sides in the litigation reached agreement today on one count in Rhoades' lawsuit: That he be permitted to have his attorney present at the execution. With that agreement, Rhoades dropped that count from the suit.
Meanwhile, KTVB-TV reports here that Rhoades is spending what likely are his final days in daily visits with his mother, watching TV, reading and doing some art work. He's also spending time with his spiritual advisor and his attorney. Idaho Corrections Director Brent Reinke told KTVB, "There's an anxiousness on Death Row," and the warden at Idaho's maximum security prison has agreed to allow Death Row inmates to sign a card for Rhoades.