RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The 4th Circuit upheld Virginia’s method of lethal injection by administering a three-drug cocktail, a procedure the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in April in Baze v. Rees.
Christopher Scott Emmett challenged the procedure as a form of cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Lethal injection involves the injection of sodium thiopental, a fast-acting barbiturate that stops respiration; pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the inmate; and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.
Opponents of the procedure say the process can be extremely painful if administered incorrectly, because the inmate can suffer excruciating pain while paralyzed.
Judge Traxler noted that Virginia has several checklists and requirements designed to ensure that the drugs are administered safely, and said Emmett’s concerns are “woefully insufficient” to establish any risk of being improperly anesthetized.
The court rejected his request for additional safeguards, including a three-minute delay between the injection of the first and second chemicals.