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Case Name Reid v. Johnson CJ-VA-0001
Docket / Court 3:03-cv-01039-JRS ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On December 15, 2003, James Edward Reid, a prisoner on death row in Virginia, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Virginia Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Reid, who filed the complaint three days prior to his scheduled ... read more >
On December 15, 2003, James Edward Reid, a prisoner on death row in Virginia, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Virginia Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Reid, who filed the complaint three days prior to his scheduled execution, argued that the lethal injection method used by Virginia would violate his constitutional rights by subjecting him to a high level of pain and suffering in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

The day after the complaint was filed, the District Court (Judge James R. Spencer) dismissed the complaint and closed the case, finding that this was an unauthorized successive habeas petition, and that the plaintiff should have raised this issue in his earlier lawsuit.

The plaintiff appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a stay of execution so that it could consider the merits of the appeal. The defendants appealed the stay of execution order, and the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the order staying the execution.

On August 2, 2004, after the Supreme Court vacated the stay of execution, the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion remanding the case back to the District Court for reconsideration in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Nelson v. Campbell, 124 S.Ct. 2117 (2004), which was decided after the District Court's decision in this case. In Nelson, the Supreme Court found that § 1983 was an appropriate vehicle for some challenges to state execution methods, and that not all such challenges are habeas claims, and the Fourth Circuit found that this case needed reconsideration in light of that ruling. Reid v. Johnson, 105 Fed.Appx. 500 (4th Cir. 2004).

On September 3, 2004, the District Court (Judge Henry E. Hudson) held that the plaintiff was not likely to suffer irreparable harm as a result of Virginia's lethal injection method and declined to issue a preliminary injunction. Reid v. Johnson, 333 F.Supp.2d 543 (E.D.Va. 2004). Reid appealed, and six days later, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision.

On September 9, 2004, James Edward Reid was executed by lethal injection. On October 22, 2004, the District Court (Judge Spencer) dismissed the case as moot. Reid v. Johnson, No. 03-1039, 2004 WL 3789373 (E.D.Va. Oct. 22, 2004).

Kristen Sagar - 09/17/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - General
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description a death-sentenced prisoner of the State of Virginia
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
3:03-cv-01039-JRS (E.D. Va.) 10/22/2004
CJ-VA-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order Remanding the Case Back to the District Court for Reconsideration 08/02/2004 (105 Fed.Appx. 500)
CJ-VA-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion on Remand 09/03/2004 (333 F.Supp.2d 543) (E.D. Va.)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 10/22/2004 (2004 WL 3789373 ) (E.D. Va.)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Judges Gregory, Roger L. (Fourth Circuit)
CJ-VA-0001-0002
Hudson, Henry E. (E.D. Va.)
CJ-VA-0001-0001
Shedd, Dennis W. (Fourth Circuit, D.S.C.)
CJ-VA-0001-0002
Spencer, James Randolph (E.D. Va.)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Wilkins, William Walter (D.S.C., Fourth Circuit)
CJ-VA-0001-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brace, Michele Jill (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Clements, Gary (Louisiana)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Donnelly, Marie Frances (Illinois)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-0002 | CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Givens, Jennifer Leigh (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Harrison, Clifford Lee (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-0002 | CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Lee, Robert Edward Jr (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Olive, Mark Evan (Florida)
CJ-VA-0001-9000
Turk, James Clinton (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-0002 | CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baldwin, Katherine Pharis (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0001 | CJ-VA-0001-0002 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Shaw-Bell, Noelle L (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Vorhis, Richard Carson (Virginia)
CJ-VA-0001-0003 | CJ-VA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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