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Washington's Lethal Injection Protocol Challenged

A legal appeal challenging Washington state's protocol for lethal injection could result in a stay of execution for Cal Coburn Brown. The appeal is planned for next month.

The Seattle Times reports the appeal filed in Thurston County by attorney Gil Levy on behalf of death row inmates Coburn Brown and Jonathan Gentry argues that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Currently Cal Coburn Brown is set to be executed on March 13 at Walla Walla state penitentiary. He was convicted for the murder of a Burien woman in 1991.  Gentry was convicted of killing a 12-year-old girl in 1981 near Bremerton.

He has no set execution date.

Late last year the State Department of Corrections changed the requirements for the execution team in charge of administering the three-drug cocktail.  The new requirements include two years of blood drawing experience or the equivalent.

Sherilyn Peterson: "Before they had absolutely no qualifications. No they've introduced some qualifications, but there is no requirement that the qualifications be current.

That's attorney Sherilyn Peterson. She represents convicted double murderer Darold Ray Stenson.

In November Peterson successfully convinced a Thurston county judge to stay stenson's December 3rd execution date.  She argued the new standards were not properly vetted. Peterson said the courts need to decide if the protocols meet constitutional guidelines.

Sherilyn Peterson: "So you can have somebody who was trained twenty years ago and hasn't inserted an iv for years. And under the states policy that would facially be good enough. Because that person had the qualifications at one time."

The state asked the Thurston county court for a summary judgment and was denied. The challenge to the lethal injection protocol in the Stenson case will go to trial in may.