US judge delays first federal executions in 17 years

Darnell Taylor
July 14, 2020

Lee had been convicted of killing three people, including a child, as part of a broader racketeering scheme to fund a white supremacist cause.

Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, stating that "the resumption of federal executions promises to provide examples that illustrate the difficulties of administering the death penalty consistent with the Constitution".

The three men scheduled to be executed this week had been scheduled to be put to death when Barr announced the federal government would resume executions past year, ending an informal moratorium on federal capital punishment as the issue receded from the public domain.

William Barr, US Attorney General, said he believes the Bureau of Prisons could "carry out these executions without being at risk".

A 1976 Supreme Court decision allowed states to reinstate the death penalty and in 1988 the government passed legislation that made it available again at a federal level.

In announcing the planned resumption of executions, Attorney General William Barr said a year ago: "We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system".

"The court. finds that the likely harm that plaintiffs would suffer if the court does not grant injunctive relief far outweighs any potential harm to defendants", Judge Chutkan said.

Surgeon Normal Jerome Adams explained men and women wanted to "understand the value of putting on encounter coverings and fantastic hand hygiene and remaining property when they can".

"It feels disingenuous to me for someone to say they're doing this in our family's name and for us, and no one's taken into account our well-being and health", Veillette said.

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They argued that the coronavirus pandemic would endanger their lives if they traveled to Terre Haute to witness the execution. The agency has put a number of additional measures in place, including temperature checks and requiring witnesses to wear masks.

The Trump administration's move has been criticised as a political decision, with campaigners expressing concern about cases being rushed.

In the court filing on Sunday, the Justice Department said that a staff member involved in the execution had tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump faces a tough election in November to secure a second term in office.

Lee's execution would be only the third carried out in the USA since March due to concerns about COVID-19.

Dustin Lee Honken fatally shot five people-two men who planned to testify against him and a single mother and her 10-year-old and 6-year-old daughters.

Most crimes are tried under state laws, but federal courts handle some of the most serious crimes, including terror attacks and hate crimes.

A fourth man, Keith Dwayne Nelson, is scheduled to be executed in August. He is due to be executed by lethal injection at the US Department of Justice's execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana.

While Texas, Missouri and other states execute multiple condemned inmates each year, federal executions are rare: only three have occurred since 1963, all from 2001 to 2003, including the 2001 execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

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