Case: Baze v. Rees

04-01094 | Kentucky state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 9, 2004

Closed Date: 2008

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 9, 2004, two death-sentenced prisoners at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Section 17 of the Kentucky Constitution against the Kentucky Department of Corrections in the Kentucky Circuit Court for Franklin County. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the defendants had threatened to violate their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting him to a "cu…

On August 9, 2004, two death-sentenced prisoners at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Section 17 of the Kentucky Constitution against the Kentucky Department of Corrections in the Kentucky Circuit Court for Franklin County. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the defendants had threatened to violate their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting him to a "cut-down" procedure and "torturing him to death" through the use of a short-acting barbiturate during the lethal injection process. The plaintiffs also alleged that their due process rights were violated by the defendants' refusal to disclose the execution procedures.

On September 8, 2004, the defendants asked the District Court to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that their lethal injection methodology created an unreasonable and medically unacceptable risk of subjecting them to undue pain and suffering.

On July 8, 2005, the Franklin Circuit Court (Judge Roger L. Crittendon) issued an injunction prohibiting the defendants from utilizing the portion of their lethal injection protocol that permits injection of lethal chemicals into the neck of the condemned prisoner. The court held that all other parts of the state's execution protocol complied with the state and federal constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiffs appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

On November 22, 2006, the Kentucky Supreme Court (Judge Wintersheimer) affirmed the decision of the circuit court, holding that the lethal injection procedures as modified would not violate the rights of the plaintiffs to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Baze v. Rees, 217 S.W.3d 207 (KY 2006).

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on October 3, 2007. It issued an opinion on April 16, 2008 and affirmed the decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court. It held that Kentucky's lethal injection protocol does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because there is not a substantial risk of serious harm, and the risk that the Department of Corrections may erroneously administer the drug does not qualify as such. It also held that Kentucky was under no obligation to adopt any of the allegedly more humane alternatives to its lethal injection protocol. 553 U.S. 35 (2008)

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (9/3/2007)

Anna Dimon (5/15/2015)

Related Cases

Moore v. Rees, Eastern District of Kentucky (2006)

Johnson v. Little, Middle District of Tennessee (2006)

Bowling v. Haas, Eastern District of Kentucky (2007)

People


Judge(s)

Crittenden, Roger L. (Kentucky)

Roberts, John Glover Jr. (District of Columbia)

Wintersheimer, Donald (Kentucky)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Balliet, Susan (Kentucky)

Barron, David M. (Kentucky)

Shouse, Ted (Kentucky)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Judy, Brian (Kentucky)

Middendorf, Jeffrey T. (Kentucky)

Smith, David A. (Kentucky)

Judge(s)

Crittenden, Roger L. (Kentucky)

Roberts, John Glover Jr. (District of Columbia)

Wintersheimer, Donald (Kentucky)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Balliet, Susan (Kentucky)

Barron, David M. (Kentucky)

Shouse, Ted (Kentucky)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Judy, Brian (Kentucky)

Middendorf, Jeffrey T. (Kentucky)

Smith, David A. (Kentucky)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

04-01094

Complaint

Aug. 9, 2004

Aug. 9, 2004

Complaint

04-01094

Motion to Compel Discovery

Sept. 1, 2004

Sept. 1, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Response to Motion to Dismiss

Sept. 3, 2004

Sept. 3, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

Sept. 3, 2004

Sept. 3, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Renewed Motion for Immediate Trial Date

Oct. 8, 2004

Oct. 8, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Motion for Temporary Injunction Barring Execution

Nov. 12, 2004

Nov. 12, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Reply to Response for Temporary Injunction

Nov. 18, 2004

Nov. 18, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

04-01094

Trial Testimony Transcipt (Unofficial) April 18, 2005

April 18, 2005

April 18, 2005

Transcript

04-01094

Trial Testimony Transcript (Unofficial) April 19, 2005

April 19, 2005

April 19, 2005

Transcript

04-01094

Trial Testimony Transcript (Unofficial) April 20, 2005

April 20, 2005

April 20, 2005

Transcript

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 1, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Kentucky

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 9, 2004

Closing Date: 2008

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Two death-sentenced inmates at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Kentucky Department of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2006 - 0

Issues

Death Penalty:

Lethal Injection - General