Rhoades v. Reinke

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 11-16-2011
  • Case #: 11-35940
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam: Circuit Judges Gould, Bybee and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to succeed in a motion for stay of execution based on the constitutionality of an execution protocol, the defendant must show that he is likely to succeed in his challenge in order to be entitled to a stay.

Paul Rhoades was executed by lethal injection on November 18, 2011 in Idaho. Prior to his execution Rhoades filed an emergency motion for a stay of execution with the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, arguing that the three-drug execution protocol used by the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”) created a substantial risk of severe pain. The district court denied his motion. On appeal, Rhoades contended that (1) the protocol (“SOP 135”) used by the IDOC is not substantially similar to the injection protocols authorized by the Supreme Court; (2) the district court erred in concluding that he did not show a substantial risk that SOP 135 would be carried out in an unconstitutional manner; and (3) because there is an available one-drug protocol that does not pose a risk of severe pain, SOP 135 violates the Eighth Amendment because the risk of severe pain is substantial compared to another available method. The Court rejected Rhoades claims, holding that, (1) SOP 135 is substantially similar to protocols ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court in Kentucky and the Ninth Circuit in Arizona, and actually includes more safeguards; (2) Rhoades failed to raise issues of fact to support the inference that the protocol will be improperly administered and that he will be inadequately anesthetized and subjected to severe pain; and (3) the IDOC is within its rights to use the three-drug protocol if it is administered in a way unlikely to cause substantial risk of severe pain, despite the existence of the one-drug protocol. Accordingly, the Court held that Rhoads was not entitled to injunctive relief on the merits. AFFIRMED.

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