The Supreme Court of Georgia has unanimously agreed to hear the state’s appeal of a Fulton County judge’s order that stopped the execution of Warren Lee Hill.  Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan issued a stay of execution July 18, 2013 to review the constitutionality of a new Georgia statute that makes certain information about the drug used in executions a “confidential state secret.”  In granting the state’s application to appeal, the high court has asked the parties to address four questions:

• Is the case moot since the current supply of pentobarbital has expired and it is unclear how the state would obtain a new supply of execution drugs?

• Did the Fulton County Superior Court have the authority to stay Hill’s execution?

• Could the whole issue of the statute’s constitutionality be avoided if Hill were given a sample of the drug for testing or given other information the statute does not prohibit?

• Did Judge Tusan err by issuing the stay based on Hill’s challenge of the statute’s constitutionality?

Assuming the parties request oral arguments, they will likely be held in the next several months.  Hill’s attorneys opposed the high court’s review.  At the heart of the issue is the Constitutionality of Official Code of Georgia § 42-5-36 (d).  Hill, 53, was scheduled to be put to death July 19 by lethal injection however, “neither the Plaintiff, nor the general public, has sufficient information with which to measure the safety of the drug that would be used to execute Plaintiff…”  Hill was given the death sentence in 1991 after a Lee County jury convicted him of murder in the 1990 bludgeoning death of a fellow prison inmate, Joseph Handspike. At the time, Hill was serving a life prison sentence for the 1986 shooting death of his 18-year-old girlfriend, Myra Sylvia Wright.

Judge Tusan concluded that the law improperly interfered with the court’s duty to make a judgment about the planned execution: “[the law] explicitly exempts from judicial review the very information that would be necessary for a court to determine the constitutionality of an inmate’s execution.”

Another Constitutional issue has plagued Hill’s conviction.  Both can be boiled down to the 8th Amendment, in the case’s most simple terms.  In the current culture of government secrets, one must ask themselves if it is appropriate for a government that can’t be trusted not to overreach reading our emails, to be trusted to ensure the Constitutionality of taking someone’s life?

The other issue is Warren Hill’s mental status.  Experts on both sides now agree that Hill is mentally retarded, which would make him ineligible for the death penalty.  Yet, he still sits on death row and the State of Georgia still wants to execute him all the while keeping how a secret.

The State’s appeal is before the Georgia Supreme Court while the defense’s appeal is before the U.S. Supreme Court.

  1. Donia Thimons says:

    It brings to mind..What are the Secrets The Florida Grand Jury resorted too…Indicting Casey Marie Anthony of Capital Murder…(without a body)..Yet in The State’s LANGUAGE..*Declaring Caylee Marie Anthony DEAD!…The alledge evidence(s) Sealed..and an Order of Recusal was filed August 3rd 2011…less than a month Casey Marie Anthony was Declared Not Guilty…Sounds familiar..?


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