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Former Execution Volunteer Joins ACLU Lethal Injection Suit

Brian Stull,
Senior Staff Attorney ,
ACLU Capital Punishment Project
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May 8, 2008

On October 15, 2007, the State of Nevada was set to execute by lethal injection death-row inmate William Castillo, who had abandoned his appeals and volunteered for execution. In late September, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case Baze v. Rees, to decide the constitutionality of Kentucky's lethal injection protocol.

Attempting to prevent Nevada from carrying out an execution that would violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the ACLU's Nevada affiliate, working in conjunction with the Capital Punishment Project, filed an action in the Nevada Supreme Court resulting in the stay of all executions in Nevada. The stay was entered only 90 minutes before Castillo's scheduled execution.

Castillo has now changed his mind about volunteering for execution and, on May 7, 2008, joined in the ACLU's challenge of Nevada's lethal injection execution procedure. Castillo's attorneys have argued that the case should be sent back to a lower court for a hearing to get details the high court needs to "fully address the constitutionality" of Nevada's execution protocol.

Lee Rowland of the Nevada ACLU argued the case in the Nevada Supreme Court. 'We're very glad that our lawsuit gave Mr. Castillo the time to reconsider and decide not to volunteer for the death penalty," she said.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the ACLU's National Prison Project has filed suit challenging Nevada's grossly inadequate medical care at Ely Prison, which houses the state's death row.

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