Tennessee Supreme Court to Decide if Death Row Inmates Can Challenge the Possibility of Electrocution

February 13, 2015

The Tennessee Supreme Court today has agreed to decide whether a death row inmate can properly challenge the constitutionality of the possibility of electrocution as a method of execution.

The lawsuit by 34 death row inmates challenges several aspects of Tennessee’s death penalty protocol. In an order filed today, the Court agreed to hear the State’s request to dismiss the plaintiffs’ challenge to electrocution as a method of execution, asserting that none of the plaintiffs is subject to execution by electrocution at this time.

Although there has not been a final decision in the case at the trial court level, some elements of the lawsuit have already been subject to appellate review. In addition to this claim regarding electrocution, the Supreme Court is considering whether the identities of those involved in the execution process – including medical examiners, pharmacists, and physicians – must be revealed to the death row inmates as a part of the discovery process.

The case will be heard by the Supreme Court in oral arguments on May 6 in Knoxville.

A copy of the order can be viewed here.