University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Jackson v. Taylor CJ-DE-0001
Docket / Court 06-300 ( D. Del. )
State/Territory Delaware
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On May 8, 2006, a prisoner of the State of Delaware filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against the Delaware Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiff, who was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, asked the court to enjoin ... read more >
On May 8, 2006, a prisoner of the State of Delaware filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against the Delaware Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiff, who was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, asked the court to enjoin the defendants from carrying out the execution, arguing that the lethal injection procedure inflicts unnecessary pain and torture in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

On May 9, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Judge Sue L. Robinson) granted the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, holding that the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision in Hill v. McDonough (CJ-FL-002) would have an impact on the outcome of this case. Jackson v. Taylor, No. 06-0300, 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 27658 (D.Del. 2006).

On October 11, 2006, the case was referred to mediation. On December 1, 2006, the plaintiff asked the court to certify the case as a class action, and on February 23, 2007, the District Court (Judge Robinson) certified a plaintiff class of all inmates scheduled to be executed by the State of Delaware.

During the course of the litigation, the Defendants amended their lethal injection protocol twice in an effort to comport with the United States Supreme Court's decision in Baze v. Rees, which upheld Kentucky's lethal injection protocol against a similar Eighth Amendment challenge.

On March 11, 2009 the United States District Court for the District of Delaware granted the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. While the District Court acknowledged that the Defendants had at times failed to follow their own procedures, the Plaintiffs had failed to show a "substantial risk of an inadequate dose of sodium thiopental." However, the District Court stayed the executions pending appeal.

On February 1, 2010 the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion affirming the District Court's grant of summary judgment. The Court of Appeals made clear that in order to prevail on a claim, the Plaintiffs needed to demonstrate that "the conditions presenting the risk must be 'sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering,' and give rise to 'sufficiently imminent dangers." In other words, the Court of Appeals found that "Delaware's 2008 Protocol is not unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court precedent." The Supreme Court denied certiorari on October 12, 2010.

After the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court's grant of summary judgment, the Plaintiffs filed a motion to reopen the case under Federal Rule Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) and (d) and a motion to stay the execution with the District Court. The District Court found that a stay was not warranted because Plaintiffs had "not carried their burden to prove that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Eighth Amendment claim." On July 28, 2011 the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Following the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari, and Plaintiff Robert Jackson was executed just after midnight on July 29, 2011, by lethal injection.

The Court of Appeals, in a written opinion that followed Mr. Jackson's execution, found that the District Court had not abused its discretion in denying the stay of execution. Specifically, the Court of Appeals wrote that the District Court had not abused its discretion when it found that the plaintiffs had failed to "demonstrate that the substitution of pentobarbital resulted in a constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering."

As of July 27, 2011 the case has been closed

Justin Benson - 03/01/2012


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - General
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Delaware Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description inmates scheduled to be executed by the State of Delaware
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
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 2011
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing CJ-FL-0002 : Hill v. McDonough (N.D. Fla.)
Docket(s)
(D. Del.) 11/17/2001
CJ-DE-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/08/2006
CJ-DE-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Motion for Preliminary Injunction 05/08/2006
CJ-DE-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Order 05/09/2006 (2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 27658) (D. Del.)
CJ-DE-0001-0011 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Opinion 02/22/2007 (240 F.R.D. 145) (D. Del.)
CJ-DE-0001-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Defendants' Opening Brief in Support of their Motion for Summary Judgment 12/19/2008
CJ-DE-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 01/16/2009
CJ-DE-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 03/11/2009 (601 F.Supp.2d 589) (D. Del.)
CJ-DE-0001-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion of the Court 02/01/2010 (594 F.3d 210)
CJ-DE-0001-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Order 07/27/2011 (2011 WL 3205453) (D. Del.)
CJ-DE-0001-0008 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion of the Court 09/07/2011 (656 F.3d 157)
CJ-DE-0001-0009 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Ambro, Thomas L. (Third Circuit)
CJ-DE-0001-0009
Fisher, D. Michael (Third Circuit)
CJ-DE-0001-0007 | CJ-DE-0001-0009
Hardiman, Thomas Michael (Third Circuit, W.D. Pa.)
CJ-DE-0001-0007 | CJ-DE-0001-0009
Robinson, Sue Lewis (D. Del.)
CJ-DE-0001-0006 | CJ-DE-0001-0008 | CJ-DE-0001-0010 | CJ-DE-0001-0011 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Van Antwerpen, Franklin Stuart (Third Circuit, E.D. Pa.)
CJ-DE-0001-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Marino, Helen (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0002 | CJ-DE-0001-0003 | CJ-DE-0001-0005 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
McCracken, Megan (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0002 | CJ-DE-0001-0003 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Nolas, Billy H (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0002 | CJ-DE-0001-0003
Pulzetti, Maria K (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0005 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Rowley, Maureen Kearny (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0002 | CJ-DE-0001-0003
Wiseman, Michael (Pennsylvania)
CJ-DE-0001-0002 | CJ-DE-0001-0003 | CJ-DE-0001-0005 | CJ-DE-0001-0011 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Foley , Thomas A. (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-9000
Malik , John S. (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-9000
McFarlin , Elizabeth Roberts (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-0004 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Meyers , Loren (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-0011 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Niedzielski, Marc P. (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-0004
Smith, Gregory E. (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-0004 | CJ-DE-0001-0011 | CJ-DE-0001-9000
Wallace, Paul R (Delaware)
CJ-DE-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -