Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trial Court Defends South Dakota's Lethal Injection Protocol

South Dakota’s Seventh Circuit Court rejected a death row inmate’s challenge to the state’s method of execution Thursday. Charles Russell Rhines filed a habeas corpus action claiming South Dakota’s death penalty protocol violated constitutional prohibitions of cruel and unusual punishments. The Trial Court ruled that South Dakota’s method is modeled on one approved by the U-S Supreme Court, and that it doesn’t pose a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says South Dakota’s two most recent executions prove that the state’s method is legal.

“At least the two executions that I as Attorney General have witnessed, and I know the media was present in both of them, demonstrated that they were very constitutional, that the concerns being raised initially by Donald Moeller did not occur, so we have been very fortunate in South Dakota. I think that’s in part why in the Rhines’ court decision of today, that the judge is really affirming the state has taken the precautions in drafting and implementing its lethal injection protocol in the interest in ensuring it meets those constitutional standards,” Jackley says.

Jackley says South Dakota is very careful to reserve the death penalty for only the most serious of cases. Rhines is on death row for the 1992 murder of Donnivan Schaeffer in Rapid City. Jackley says the South Dakota legislature put a reasonable limit on how many appeals an inmate can bring during last year’s session. Rhines can appeal this decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court and then to the federal courts.