U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has dismissed the portion of a lawsuit challenging Idaho's lethal-injection execution procedure that involves Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed on June 12. Lodge wrote in his 55-page decision and order today that he would allow more time for briefing in the case of the three other condemned prisoners who sued, Thomas Creech, James Hairston and Gene Stuart, but expedited Leavitt's portion because of his pending execution date.
The gist of the lawsuit challenged the state's three-drug lethal injection procedure, charging that if the earlier drug to inflict unconsciousness failed, the condemned inmate would suffer severe and excruciating pain when the later, lethal drug took effect. Since then, Idaho has announced it will use a single-drug lethal injection procedure - exactly what Leavitt sought in the lawsuit - so those points were ruled moot. Leavitt also raised several other issues, but the judge found them not sufficient to warrant a stay of execution. Among them: He challenged the experience level of the people assigned to administer the lethal drugs through IVs, but state prison officials said the least-experienced member of the team has 15 years of relevant medical experience.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed another bid from Leavitt to stay his execution on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, tied to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision; Leavitt's attorney, David Nevin, immediately filed an appeal of that decision to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. This afternoon, the Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments on remaining issues raised in state court by Leavitt's defense as his execution date approaches.