Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve

Governor Timothy M. Kaine today issued the following statement regarding the execution of Edward Nathaniel Bell and other scheduled executions in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“On September 25, 2007, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Baze v. Rees in order to consider the constitutionality of using lethal injection as a method of execution. There has been no execution carried out in the United States since that date, as courts around the country await the Supreme Court’s ruling, which will likely be issued at some time before the middle of July. Approximately 30 execution dates in 13 states have been stayed in the interim, either by actions of the Supreme Court, lower federal courts, state courts or gubernatorial action. In one of these cases, the Supreme Court issued a stay of the October 17, 2007 scheduled execution of Christopher Scott Emmett in Virginia.

“In order to await the Supreme Court’s ruling in Baze, and respecting the national legal consensus that no execution go forward until that time, I grant a temporary reprieve of the execution date for Edward Nathaniel Bell, currently scheduled for April 8, until July 24, 2008. This temporary reprieve will allow for issuance of the Supreme Court decision and consideration of whether its outcome has any effect upon the merits of Mr. Bell’s legal claims or request for clemency.

“Stays in the final hours before an execution can take an emotional and physical toll on those who must prepare for the execution, including the family members of the victim or victims. In order to provide guidance to courts, litigants and the public, it is my intention, for the reasons expressed here, to grant a temporary delay of any execution date in Virginia that has been set after the conclusion of federal habeas corpus review and that is scheduled to occur before the Baze decision is rendered, unless the Supreme Court, by other ruling or action, specifies that executions may commence once again.”

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