On August 16, 2004, Timothy Johnston, a death-sentenced inmate of the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Missouri Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Johnston claimed that the defendants were planning to violate his rights by subjecting him to an unnecessary risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering. He claimed that the defendants intended to execute him with drugs that "veterinarians would not use for the euthanasia of cats and dogs," casting a "chemical veil over the excrutiatingly painful effects of death by suffocation and heart attack" and using an "unreliable anesthetic" that would leave him "conscious but trapped in a paralyzed body racked with pain, suffocation, and heart attack." He also claimed that the defendants planned to use "inadequately trained personnel, who use inappropriate equipment and arbitrary drugs and methods" during the lethal injection process. The plaintiff asked the District Court to permanently enjoin the defendants from executing him by the intended means and to declare that the defendants' current method for conducting executions by lethal injection violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The defendants asked the court to dismiss the claims, arguing that the plaintiff should have raised these claims during his earlier habeas corpus petition. On June 13, 2005, the District Court (Judge Donald J. Stohr) denied their motion to dismiss, finding that this was a separate claim, and that the plaintiff did not have to raise these concerns during his earlier petition.
The plaintiff asked the District Court to force the defendants to submit a list of the names of the individuals who would conduct his execution, arguing that the information was necessary in order to allow him to assess their credentials. The District Court ordered the defendants to produce the names, and on August 15, 2005, the defendants filed a petition for immediate writ of prohibition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, asking the court to overturn the District Court's order. The defendants argued that if the names were made public, the named individuals would be at great risk of harassment and possibly even physical harm. On August 24, 2005, the Eighth Circuit denied the defendants' request without writing an opinion as to why. The defendants asked them to re-hear the case en banc, and the Eighth Circuit refused.
On August 16, 2005, the defendants asked the District Court for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff had not presented evidence of any violation of his rights. Two days later, the plaintiff asked the Court to stay his execution, which was scheduled for August 31, 2005, and to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the defendants from performing any executions under their existing lethal injection procedures. On August 26, 2005, the District Court (Charles A. Shaw) denied the plaintiff's requests and granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff had not established any violation of his rights.
The plaintiff appealed, and four days later, the Eighth Circuit (Judges Kermit E. Bye, Gerald W. Heaney, and Pasco M. Bowman) granted him a stay of execution until September 8, 2005, at 12:01 a.m. The defendants asked for an en banc re-hearing of the decision, and on the same day, the case was re-heard by an en banc panel. The en banc panel vacated the stay of execution, and the plaintiff asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to delay the execution.
Timothy Johnston was executed by lethal injection at 12:07 a.m. on August 31, 2005.Kristen Sagar - 09/07/2007