Execution stays in hand, SC death row inmates drop requests for emergency injunction

Two death row prisoners who had sought court intervention weeks before execution are taking a step back.Brad Sigmon, Freddie Owens received stays from the state Supreme Court just days before Sigmon was due for execution. They asked that court dismiss their appeal and withdrew the motion for an emergency order in a federal appellate Court.After the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Corrections cannot proceed with executions until the Department of Corrections can offer the inmates the option of two or more execution methods. The state cannot currently purchase the drugs necessary for lethal injection so executions are not possible until Corrections offers the firing squad as an execution method.The department is currently creating policies and procedures for a firing squad death. This method has never been used in South Carolina to execute an official state sentence.Two days prior to the execution of Sigmon, Owens and Sigmon were granted stay of execution. Owens was originally scheduled to be executed on June 25, the following week.The state Supreme Court heard Owens and Sigmons' appeal on June 22. They asked them to dismiss it, claiming that the appeal was moot because the two had been granted stays of execution.This case concerned the constitutionality and implementation of South Carolina's May execution law.The old law stipulated that the lethal injection was the default method of execution. This meant that if an inmate didn't choose to die in an electric chair, they could not be forced to. South Carolina was unable to execute executions after drug companies stopped selling lethal injection drugs to the states.The default execution method was changed to the electric chair by lawmakers this year. The May revised law provides that the default execution method is the electric seat. However, prisoners can choose to use the firing squad or lethal injection if they are not available.Continue the storyLawyers representing death row inmates claimed that the law change was not constitutional. They argued that retroactive law, which means it applies to inmates who were sentenced to death prior to the law being changed, was unlawful as it makes inmates die in a more painful way.They requested a Richland County judge to issue an injunction against the new law. This would have stopped executions.However, the circuit court judge ruled against them and said that it was unlikely that the lawyers arguments would succeed.The inmates requested that the federal appellate court dismiss their emergency injunction request.The case was a result of a federal court case in which the inmates lost. Their attorneys claimed that the electric chair violated Article Eighth, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the electric chair was not cruel and unusual punishment. However, the lawyers for the inmates argued that it was now time for the court's reexamination.Florence Federal Judge ruled against their request to an emergency injunction. He stated that they were unlikely succeeding on the merits.