Yesterday, Attorney General Doug Peterson requested an execution warrant from the state supreme court for Carey Dean Moore, Nebraska’s longest serving death row inmate. Should a warrant be granted, an execution date would be set within 60 days. This is disappointing news, but we know that Nebraskans are committed to transparency and we remain optimistic that an execution won’t be carried out anytime soon. There are currently five separate challenges to Nebraska’s death penalty system, outlined below.
1. Sandoval v. Ricketts - This case, brought by eight death row inmates, challenges the validity of their sentences based on the fact that LB268 (which repealed the death penalty) went into effect before the referendum on the bill was placed on the ballot. Further, they argue that the results of the referendum effectively changed their sentences (back to ‘death’), and changing a sentence is beyond the legal scope of the referendum process. This case was initially dismissed, but is currently being appealed.
2. Freedom of Information Act request - When the Department of Corrections initially announced the new drug cocktail it plans to experiment with back in November, the ACLU, the Lincoln Journal-Star, and others filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information about when, where, and how the drugs were purchased. This request received only a partial response, and a suit has been filed seeking the release of the withheld information.
3. DEA complaint - The ACLU has filed a complaint with the Drug Enforcement Administration, citing the Department of Correction’s failure to comply with important regulations that govern the purchase, storage, and use of controlled substances.
4. Violation of Administrative Procedures Act - This suit, filed just last week by Senator Ernie Chambers and Rev. Steve Griffith, challenges the new execution protocol on the grounds that the rule-making record that was made available before the hearing on the revisions failed to include initial drafts and records of consultation as required by state law.
5. Internal Legislative Challenge - Also last week, Sen. Ernie Chambers filed a complaint with the Legislature’s executive board based on the Department of Correction’s violations of state and federal law. The complaint has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for consideration. This is one of the problems with the death penalty system: it inevitably leads to seemingly-endless lawsuits. Each of these challenges takes time, money, and other resources away from victims’ services and law enforcement. What a waste! Now is a great time to send a handwritten note to Governor Ricketts and Attorney General Peterson, asking them to put all executions on hold until the Department of Corrections can prove the validity and safety of the new drug cocktail. Their contact information is below: Office of the Governor
PO Box 94848 Lincoln, NE 68509-4848
Nebraska Attorney General’s Office PO Box 98920 Lincoln, NE 68509
-Matt Maly On Behalf of all of NADP