Nevada judge halts use of drug in planned execution

The mugshot of Scott Raymond Dozier. NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

The mugshot of Scott Raymond Dozier. NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer says that some of the seven justices are in Chicago for a Nevada State Bar Association meeting, but that the court could meet by teleconference.

This undated Nevada Department of Corrections photo shows death row inmate Scott Raymond Dozier, who was convicted in 2007 of robbing, killing and dismembering a 22-year-old man in Las Vegas, and was convicted in Arizona in 2005 of another murder and dismemberment near Phoenix.

The order is the first time a drug company has successfully sued to halt an execution in the USA involving one of its drugs.

The pharmaceutical company Alvogen filed a challenge on Wednesday, accusing the state of Nevada of surreptitiously obtaining the sedative Midazolam for executions and saying that it did not want the drug used in executions.

The department of corrections will not comment on the case. State officials could appeal right away to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The first Nevada execution to use the synthetic opioid fentanyl could be stalled thanks to a lawsuit from a pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical company also raised fears that the drug could lead to a botched execution, citing cases that apparently went awry elsewhere around the country.

The lawsuit said that to perpetuate the deception, the authorities had the midazolam shipped to the department of correction's central pharmacy rather than to the prison where the execution is to take place.

"The Midazolam has been used in other executions in half a dozen other states with really bad consequences- seriously prolonged executions, with gasping really tortuous effects", says Nancy Hart with Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty. The judge, who said she needed time to read the lengthy complaint and the accompanying application for a temporary restraining order, scheduled another hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday. Gonzalez set a hearing in the case for September 10. The legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the U.S, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

The health care supply company McKesson filed a similar lawsuit in Arkansas previous year, but that challenge was rejected.

Alvogen said in a statement that it was pleased with the ruling and will continue to work through the legal system to ensure its products are not used in executions.

Drug company Sandoz wants to join New Jersey-based drugmaker Alvogen in its objection to the Wednesday evening execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.

Nevada officials plan to use an untested three-drug protocol of midazolam, fentanyl and cisatracurium to execute Dozier.

Last year, the state refused to return its stock of fentanyl and diazepam to drug company Pfizer.

Jordan T. Smith, an assistant Nevada solicitor general, countered at Wednesday's hearing that the state didn't put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs.

The company said the license was used on a purchase order in a deliberate attempt to dupe a drug wholesaler, Cardinal Health, into believing that the 90 vials of the medicine were to be used by a doctor in legitimate medical treatment. Earlier that year, another inmate, Clayton Lockett, had been injected with midazolam, but instead of becoming unconscious, he twitched, convulsed and spoke. Under Nevada's new execution protocol, the inmate is next given fentanyl and then cisatracurium, one to slow his breathing, the other to stop it.

"I've been very clear about my desire to be executed ... even if suffering is inevitable", he said in a handwritten note to a judge who postponed his execution in November over concerns the untried drug regimen could leave him suffocating, conscious and unable to move.

Midazolam has been used with inconsistent results in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and Ohio. "It's extremely experimental", as Amy Rose of the American Civil Liberties Union puts it.

Dozier has said that he wishes to be executed and that being put to death is better than spending the rest of his life in prison.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the 47-year-old told the Review-Journal. In court hearings and letters, he said there is a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison. Miller had come to Nevada to buy ingredients to make meth. The victim's torso was found in a suitcase dumped in a trash bin in Las Vegas, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections.

The third drug, cisatracurium, was the subject of an appeals process past year in Dozier's case. A witness testified Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic storage container.

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