MO AG Wants Court To Set Execution Dates Prior To Expiration Of Propofol


Missouri – Attorney General Chris Koster asked Missouri’s highest court to set execution dates Monday, timing them so that the state’s small supply of the drug being used for lethal injections, propofol, will not expire before the inmates can be killed. Executions in the state ground to a halt last August after the court refused to set execution dates for 6 condemned prisoners until a federal legal challenge was resolved regarding the use of the drug propofol as Missouri’s newly designated execution method. The previous drug of choice for lethal injections was sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured. However production problems with propofol have left it in short supply nationwide and a number of companies refuse to ship the drug to corrections facilities because it will be used for lethal injection. Propofol is the most widely used induction agent for general anesthesia in operating rooms throughout the United States, as was sodium thiopental before propofol replaced it. Propofol is the same medication which caused the death of Michael Jackson.

The attorney general’s office said in court documents filed Monday that the Missouri Department of Corrections has just three executions worth of propofol remaining all approaching the limit of their shelf life,  with one expiring this October, another in May 2014 and the third in 2015. They want to have execution dates scheduled before each of the expiration dates.

“This Court should not allow the mere pendency of ongoing federal litigation to effectively eliminate capital punishment in Missouri simply because the lawsuits outlast the Department’s supply of propofol,” the attorney general’s office wrote in a court document signed by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Hawke. It seems a rather convoluted administration of justice he is advocating since one can argue that the court should not allow the mere imminent expiration of an execution drug to decide the issue of whether pending federal litigation over the appropriateness of its use should first be decided. Indeed the argument seems quite absurd and contrary to the administration of justice.

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