Our challenge to Missouri executions

by Mary Ann McGivern

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About a year ago I signed on as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Missouri Department of Corrections practice of buying execution drugs out of state at an unlicensed compound pharmacy, but the judge determined that we plaintiffs, two former Missouri legislators, a pastor and me, lacked standing.

Now, on May 18, the Missouri Court of Appeals will hear our case.

As our attorney Justin Geifand said, "The state has successfully fended off similar challenges brought by people sentenced to death saying they lacked 'standing' to bring the case. If the Court of Appeals finds that we, as taxpayers, also lack standing to have this case finally decided on the merits, then it would appear that nobody has the ability to bring these important issues to court. But in America, we bring important issues to court and that's precisely what we did here."

Just last week the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer took steps to block use of its pharmaceuticals in executions, evidence of the growing repugnance to capital punishment. As plaintiffs in this court case, we have the opportunity to object to what is, at the very least, the unseemly behavior of the Department of Corrections director of adult institutions driving out of state with a satchel of cash to purchase execution drugs compounded and prescribed by a doctor who conducts no medical examination and is contractually obliged to write the invalid prescription.

The most recent Missouri execution a week ago of Earl Forrest is, in my opinion, another example of capricious and reckless implementation of the death penalty. Forrest killed three people, including a sheriff's deputy, but he was severely mentally impaired. He expressed deep remorse for the murder of the sheriff but not the other two whom he killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Surely life in prison would have been sufficient punishment. Even better would have been appropriate care and treatment of his mental condition which might have saved three lives.

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