House of Representatives State of Tennessee

For Immediate Release / October 4, 2007

Contact: Kara Watkins (615) 741-1975

Press Release

Republican leaders ask Governor to join Kentucky in fighting for lethal injection as means to implement death penalty
NASHVILLE – House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) and House Republican
Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin) today asked Governor Phil Bredesen to request the Attorney General to join as a “friend of the court” with the state of Kentucky in fighting to uphold lethal injection as a method to carry out the state’s death penalty law. The House Republican leaders also asked Bredesen to “vigorously pursue” an appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger’s decision that the current method of lethal injection used in Tennessee qualifies as “cruel and unusual punishment” and is unconstitutional. The action came after the United States Supreme Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection in the Kentucky case of Ralph Baze and Thom Bowling. Lethal injection is used to carry out the death sentence in 37 states, many of which are now on hold due to the court action. Similarly, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case interrupted plans to carry out the death sentence of Edward Jerome Harbison based on Judge Trauger’s decision that lethal injection could “result in a terrifying, excruciating death.” “Those on death row have committed the ‘the worst of the worst’ crimes in Tennessee,” said Mumpower. “Return to a system that endlessly denies justice to victims of heinous crimes is ‘cruel and unusual’ to victims, their families, and their friends who suffer much pain and psychological trauma due to the nature of these heinous crimes.” Tennessee, like other states that perform lethal injections, uses a three-drug cocktail: thiopental, an anesthetic; pancuronium bromide, a nerve blocker and muscle paralyzer; and potassium chloride, a drug to stop the heart. Despite new procedures adopted by the Department of Corrections earlier this year, Trauger maintained the state must adopt a different method of execution. However, Mumpower and Casada called on the Governor to continue scheduled executions since the law allows for other means of execution. “This is just wrong,” Casada contended. “While we support due process and the rule of law in Tennessee, we must also defend those who are defenseless, the victims whose lives have been ended by terrible and violent acts. We owe it to these victims to utilize Tennessee’s full resources to join efforts to uphold our capital punishment law.” “Our legislature has worked to have a death penalty method that would pass court scrutiny when we passed lethal injection, replacing electrocution. The action by the courts appears to demonstrate that possibly no method of capital punishment would be allowed by the courts, although we hope the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the lethal injection method,” Casada concluded.