In brief: July 2017

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In Florida, the Palm Beach Post reports that Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled the first execution date for an inmate since the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2016  Hurst v. Florida ruling. That decision found it unconstitutional for states to give judges, not juries, the final decision in death sentencing. It put Florida’s death penalty effectively on hold for 18 months, and will force the state to hold resentencing hearings for hundreds of inmates condemned to death under the old system.  Mark James Asay is scheduled to be executed August 27.

In Indiana, state officials are appealing an Indiana Court of Appeals decision that suspended executions in the state. Indiana Lawyer reports that the state is arguing that the appeals court’s ruling “violated the separation of powers and resulted in new, unintended burdens that could lead to ‘dysfunction’ in carrying out executions.”

In Nebraska, attorneys for an inmate already serving a life sentence, but now facing the death penalty for allegedly killing his cellmate, have filed a motion to have the state’s death penalty law declared unconstitutional, the Omaha World Herald reports. Concerns over the new drug protocol are among the 11 arguments in a motion filed this week by attorneys for Patrick Schroeder.

In Alabama, 46-year-old Robert Melson was put to death last month, the second execution in the state this year. Melson was convicted of killing three people during a robbery of a Popeye’s restaurant in 1994. AL.com reports that during the first seven minutes of the 27-minute execution by a three-drug cocktail, Melson appeared to have “slightly labored breathing.”

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