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Manuel Valle’

Supreme Court rejects latest Valle lethal injection appeal

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court rejected yet another appeal by Manuel Valle, slated to be executed tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Tuesday’s ruling is the third appeal by Valle’s lawyers rejected by courts this summer. His execution by lethal injection has twice been put on hold, first by the Florida Supreme Court and later by federal judges in Atlanta.

Valle’s lawyers have questioned the state’s use of a new drug in the lethal injection “cocktail.” The Department of Corrections has substituted the compound sodium pentobarbital for the first of the three-drug lethal injection protocol, a change forced by a manufacturer’s discontinuing of the drug formerly used.

British neurologist David Nicholl, who has ties to pentobarbital’s manufacturer Lundbeck Inc., filed the latest appeal with the state’s highest court, arguing that the use of the drug – also known as Nembutal – for executions violates the federal Controlled Substances Act which prohibits its dispensation except for legitimate medical purposes. The Court disagreed.

Since his conviction for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena, Valle has been sentenced to death and re-sentenced three times in legal wrangling that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty in 1987. Courts later reaffirmed his death penalty conviction.

Valle has another appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. His is the first – and only – death warrant signed by Gov. Rick Scott since he assumed office in January.

Federal court postpones Manuel Valle execution

Friday, September 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal court in Atlanta has postponed the execution of convicted cop killer Manuel Valle until at least Thursday.

It’s the second time since Gov. Rick Scott signed Valle’s death warrant – the only one Scott has signed since taking office in January – earlier this year that his execution has been stayed.

Valle, who has spent more than three decades on Death Row, was slated to be put to death by lethal injection on Tuesday.

The Florida Supreme Court in July put his execution, originally set for Aug. 2, on hold after his lawyers raised objections to the state’s use of a new drug as part of the lethal injection formula. Department of Corrections officials substituted pentobarbital for a drug no longer manufactured as the first of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail.”

Since his conviction for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena, Valle has been sentenced to death and re-sentenced three times in legal wrangling that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty in 1987. Courts later reaffirmed his death penalty conviction.

On Aug. 23, the Florida Supreme Court On Tuesday, the court approved the Department of Corrections’ new drug protocol, saying it did not pose a substantial risk of harm to the inmate.

Valle’s lawyers are also pursuing other appeals, including with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Manuel Valle execution set for Sept. 6

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida officials are scheduled to put Manuel Valle to death on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. after the Florida Supreme Court yesterday approved the state’s new lethal injection drug cocktail.

Valle has spent more than three decades on Death Row and has avoided execution through a series of appeals, reversals and other legal wranglings that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty. In all, courts have re-sentenced Valle to death three times.

Valle, who was born in Cuba, was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of a Coral Gables police officer, Louis Pena. Valle, now 61, shot Pena after the police officer pulled him over on a routine traffic stop.

The state’s highest court put the execution, originally ordered by Gov. Rick Scott for Aug. 2, back on track on Tuesday with an order approving the state’s new lethal injection drug protocol.

The court in July halted the execution and ordered a hearing on the Department of Corrections’ new drug – pentobarbital – substituted for a drug no longer manufactured and used as the first of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail.”

On Tuesday, the court approved the new protocol, saying it did not pose a substantial risk of harm to the inmate. Valle’s lawyers argued that pentobarbital, also known as Nebutal, may not render him unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain induced by the following drugs used in the procedure.

But the Supreme Court agreed with three other federal courts who also found no credible evidence that administering the drug in the method proscribed – 10 times the dosage required for sedation – would not render Valle unconscious. Pentobarbital is also used in animal euthanasia and assisted suicide, but its manufacturer has asked prison officials as well as Scott not to use it to kill prisoners.

Lawyers for Valle are still pursuing a challenge against lethal injection in federal court and other appeals, including with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supreme Court signs off on new lethal injection drug; execution a go

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court approved a new lethal injection drug and removed a stay on the execution of cop-killer Manuel Valle.

The court unanimously ruled that the use of the new drug – pentobarbital – as part of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail” does not inflict undue pain, ignoring the objections of Valle’s lawyers.

A divided Supreme Court last month ordered a Miami judge to hold a hearing on the new drug, an anesthetic Department of Corrections officials decided in June to replace sodium thiopental. Sodium thiopental’s manufacturer stopped making the drug early this year, leaving corrections officials in states like Florida scrambling to find a substitute.

A unanimous court agreed Tuesday with Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan’s ruling earlier this month that the drug does not raise a substantial risk of harm. Three federal courts have also signed off on the drug. Florida’s protocol requires a dosage of the drug – also used in animal euthanasia and assisted suicide – 10 times the dosage used for sedation.

Lawyers for Valle, who has spent 33 years on Death Row, argued that using pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, as an anesthetic may not render him unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain induced by the following drugs used in the lethal injection procedure.

The Danish manufacturer of the drug, Lundbeck Inc., twice pleaded with Gov. Rick Scott not to use the drug, saying it “contradicts everything we are in business to do.”

Scott signed a death warrant for Valle – his only since taking office in January – late in May.

Miami judge signs off on Florida’s new lethal injection drug

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Miami judge this morning ruled that Florida corrections officials can use a new drug as part of the lethal injection “cocktail,” setting the stage for a Supreme Court show-down later this month.

The Florida Supreme Court temporarily halted the execution of convicted cop killer Manuel Valle, originally slated for Monday, until a hearing was held on the use of the drug pentobarbital. Florida Department of Corrections officials switched to the drug in a new lethal injection protocol released in June after the manufacturer of the old drug, sodium thiopental. The Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, twice asked Gov. Rick Scott not to use the drug for lethal injections and has stopped selling it to distributors who resell it for that use.

Valle’s lawyers argued that the drug had not been tested and that its use may cause prisoners pain during executions in violation of the cruel or unusual punishment threshold set by a previous U.S. Supreme Court opinion known as “Baze.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola agreed with three federal courts that already ruled the drug does not raise a substantial risk of harm.

The “usage of pentobarbital does not create an objectively unreasonable risk of suffering,” Scola wrote in her order.

Briefs from Attorney General Pam Bondi, who went to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to get the execution back on, and Valle’s lawyers are due to the Florida Supreme Court by Aug. 19, and the court has slated oral arguments for Aug. 24 if necessary.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Valle – his only since taking office in January – late in May. The Supreme Court rescheduled Valle’s execution for Sept. 2.

High Court postpones August execution, orders hearing on new drug

Monday, July 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court has stayed the execution of convicted cop killer Manuel Valle for nearly one month and ordered a hearing on a new lethal injection drug before it can be used.

Valle’s was the first death warrant – and only – signed by Gov. Rick Scott since taking office in January. Scott signed the warrant on June 30 and set the execution for Aug. 2. Valle was convicted of killing a Coral Gables police officer Luis Pena in 1978.

The Florida Department of Corrections is set to use a new drug “cocktail” for the first time in Valle’s execution. In January, the company that manufactures the sedative sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs used to in lethal injections, stopped making the drug, leaving corrections officials in states like Florida that execute prisoners scrambling for a replacement. DOC will now use pentobarbitol, manufactured by the Danish drug company Lundbeck Inc.

The court also ordered DOC to release any correspondence with Lundbeck regarding the use of its drug for executions. The Danish manufacturer has stopped selling the drug to distributors who intend to sell it for use in executions.

The court ordered a hearing on the drug for Aug. 5 in Miami, set oral arguments if necessary on the drug issue for Aug. 24 and postponed Valle’s execution until Sept. 1.

Today, the Supreme Court ordered a hearing on the new drug by Aug. 5,

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