So what impact will another botched lethal injection execution have on the pace of executions in Texas?
Not much, according to Constitutional law expert Gerald Treece at the South Texas College of Law in Houston.
“I don’t’ think these legal challenges go anywhere,” Treece told News Radio 1200 WOAI. “I think a state needs to do the best they can to get the best science, and to do what they can to make the execution as humane as possible.”
A condemned double killer in Arizona died Wednesday night after spending two hours, apparently writing and gasping on the gurney. One witness said Joseph R. Wood, who was condemned for the 1989 murders of his ex girlfriend and her father, looked like a fish on shore during the execution.
But Treece says states aren’t required by law to make sure executions are carried out smoothly. They are required to show that they don’t anticipate any issues, and there is nothing that is inherently ‘cruel and unusual’ about the process.
“It’s not an Eighth Amendment issue,” he said. “It would be if states sat back and plotted a way to torture someone before their death. Now that would be a different story.”
The Arizona governor has ordered an investigation into Wood’s death. It follows by two months another bungled lethal injection issue, in Oklahoma.
Treece said anti death penalty activists will undoubtedly seize on the Arizona case to make Eighth Amendment arguments. The Eighth Amendment bans the use of ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’
“The Supreme court has never said that method, even though mistakes may be made, is more important than the ultimate result, which is death.”
Texas has two executions set for mid September. Texas executes more criminals by far than any other US state.