University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Wood v. Ryan CJ-AZ-0002
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-01447-NVW ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On June 26, 2014, multiple residents and citizens of Arizona subject to the death penalty filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The plaintiffs sued the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and multiple state officials associated with the organization under 42 U. ... read more >
On June 26, 2014, multiple residents and citizens of Arizona subject to the death penalty filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The plaintiffs sued the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and multiple state officials associated with the organization under 42 U.S.C. §1983. With the representation of private counsel and the Federal Public Defenders Office, the plaintiffs claimed violations of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, and the Supremacy Clause. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ lethal injection protocols did not follow the FDA’s regulations and that the Department was concealing information regarding their protocols. The plaintiffs sought temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to order defendants to stop executing plaintiffs until they complied with FDA regulations.

On July 2, 2014, the lead plaintiff, Wood, filed a motion for preliminary injunction to bar defendants from executing him on July 23, 2014 without disclosing to him the process of his execution and the drugs to be used. On July 10, 2014 Judge Neil Wake denied the motion on the grounds that Wood’s motion, founded on the First Amendment claim in his complaint, was not likely to succeed on the merits and did not raise serious questions as to the merits. 2014 WL 3385115. Wood appealed this decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On July 19, 2014, Judge Sidney R. Thomas, writing for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed the District Court’s decision and ordered that Wood’s execution be stayed until the ADC provided specific information as to the drugs to be used in his execution and the qualifications of the personnel intended to carry out his execution. 759 F.3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2014). ADC immediately filed a petition for a rehearing, but the Ninth Circuit denied this on July 21, 2014. The following day, the Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision, holding that Judge Wake did not abuse his discretion in denying Wood’s motion for a preliminary injunction. 135 S.Ct. 21 (2014). Mr. Wood was executed on July 23, 2014.

The remaining plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on September 18, 2014. The complaint described the defendants’ “improvisational execution” of Wood, stating that it placed “his suffering far beyond what the Constitution permits.” It alleged that he gasped for air for nearly two hours as the defendants continued to inject him with a variety of drugs. The complaint also added new plaintiffs and new claims to the original suit. It added several other citizens and residents of Arizona subject to the death penalty, as well as the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, Inc. The complaint further alleged that the defendants had denied the press their First Amendment right to access governmental proceedings, and violated the inmates right against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. It also claimed that the defendants had violated the Equal Protection Clause because execution methods varied without a principled basis for such deviations.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on October 9, 2014 for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The defendants moved to dismiss most of plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims alleging violation of their right to governmental proceedings and their Fourteenth Amendment claims. On November 21, 2014 the parties entered a stipulated agreement to resolve this motion. The stipulation set forth the following terms: Arizona would publicly release in mid-November a report regarding Wood’s execution and, in light of this report, the ADC would review its death penalty procedure and would propose a new protocol. If adopted, ADC would provide the plaintiffs with a copy to review and upload the final protocol on the website for public viewing. Regarding the litigation process, the stipulation stated that the defendants would not seek an execution warrant from the Arizona Supreme Court until after the issue was resolved and a final judgment was entered, that all litigation would be stayed until the new protocol was proposed, that the plaintiffs would be allowed to file a second amended complaint after the new protocol was released, if needed, and that the defendants would take all appropriate steps to preserve all documents relied upon and used in the report. Both parties agreed to not seek attorneys' fees for this matter.

Judge Wake lifted the stay on January 12, 2016, holding that the stipulation had been satisfied but that the state could not seek a warrant of execution until the matters pending in the case were resolved. The plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint on January 29, 2016. This complaint alleged that the new protocol proposed by the defendants used a combination of drugs never used together before and still violated the same rights. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ entire second amended complaint on February 19, 2016 on the grounds that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On May 18, 2016, Judge Neil Wake granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice as to both the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claims on the grounds that neither guaranteed a legal right of access to government information. This decision also dismissed the First Amendment Coalition as a plaintiff. 188 F.Supp.3d 940. First Amendment Coalition appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit, where litigation is ongoing.

On July 29, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim of an Eighth Amendment violation for cruel and unusual punishment on the grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants argued that they no longer had the midazolam drug plaintiffs referred to in their complaint and could not obtain it any more, therefore there was no subject matter to rule on for this claim. Again, the parties entered a stipulated agreement. On December 19, 2016, the parties agreed to dismiss the first claim in the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint without prejudice. But, if the ADC used or showed an intention of using midazolam or any benzodiazepine drug as part of the lethal injection protocol in the future, any future prisoner, as a third-part beneficiary, could reinstate this claim. Neither party sought attorneys' fees but they did agree in the stipulation that plaintiffs were entitled to seek fees if the defendant breached the agreement.

The final stipulated agreement of the case was entered on June 21, 2017. The agreement dismissed the last two claims in the plaintiffs’ complaint but the parties did not agree to settle the case so the plaintiffs’ preserved the right to appeal any claims in the case. Essentially, the agreement prohibited the defendant from ever engaging in the following conduct: using certain categories of drugs or expired drugs in the lethal injection process, forcing prisoners to pay for the chemicals to be used in their own injection, failing to provide a timely report of the drugs used upon request, changing the drugs to be used in an execution after a warrant has been sought without notifying the prisoner, and adopting any language that would allow the ADC or its directors discretion to deviate from the central issues to the established execution procedures. The agreement stated that if the defendants engaged in or showed their intent to engage in certain prohibited conduct the claims would be reinstated and the defendants would be enjoined from further prohibited conduct.

First Amendment Coalition's appeal continues in the Ninth Circuit.

Mackenzie Walz - 10/08/2017


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Supremacy Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - Chemicals Used
Lethal Injection - General
Lethal Injection - Staffing (including physician)
General
Conditions of confinement
Fines/Fees
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Records Disclosure
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC)
The Former Governor of Arizona
Wardens at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)
Plaintiff Description Multiple citizens and residents of Arizona subject to the death penalty and a nonprofit committed to first amendment issues, the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Philadelphia Forfeiture
http://ij.org/case/philadelphia-forfeiture/
Date: Aug. 11, 2014
By: Institute for Justice (Institute for Justice)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:14−cv−01447−NVW (D. Ariz.)
CJ-AZ-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint For Equitable, Injunctive, and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
CJ-AZ-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 21] (2014 WL 3385115) (D. Ariz.)
CJ-AZ-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion- 9th Circuit reversing District Court's denial of preliminary injunction (ECF BL-29) (759 F.3d 1076)
CJ-AZ-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/19/2014
Source: Westlaw
First Amended Complaint For Violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Equitable, Injunctive, and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 51]
CJ-AZ-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/18/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Stipulation For Temporary Stay [ECF# 67]
CJ-AZ-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint For Violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Equitable, Injunctive, and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 94]
CJ-AZ-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/26/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 117] (188 F.Supp.3d 940) (D. Ariz.)
CJ-AZ-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 137] (D. Ariz.)
CJ-AZ-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Settlement Agreement and [Proposed] Order For Dismissal of Claim One [ECF# 152]
CJ-AZ-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Settlement Agreement and [Proposed] Order For Dismissal of Claims Six and Seven [ECF# 186]
CJ-AZ-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bybee, Jay S. (Ninth Circuit)
CJ-AZ-0002-0010
Gould, Ronald Murray (Ninth Circuit)
CJ-AZ-0002-0010
Thomas, Sidney Runyan (Ninth Circuit)
CJ-AZ-0002-0010
Wake, Neil Vincent (D. Ariz.)
CJ-AZ-0002-0002 | CJ-AZ-0002-0006 | CJ-AZ-0002-0007 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Joshua E. (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Baich, Dale Andrew (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0001 | CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Degen, Alycia Ann (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Felker, Jessica Lynn (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Haddad, Mark E. (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-0008 | CJ-AZ-0002-0009 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Konrad, Robin C. (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0001 | CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Light, Matt (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Lopez, Amanda V (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Mackay, Aimee G (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
McCray, Lauren Ann (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Roberts, Katherine A (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Sands, Jon M. (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0001 | CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005
Wedel, Collin Partington (California)
CJ-AZ-0002-0003 | CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0005 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Binford, Matthew H (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Chiasson, Laura Patrice (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Done, Julie Ann (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Gard, Lacey Stover (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0008 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Horne, Thomas C. (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004
Miller, Keith Joseph (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Sparks, Jeffrey Lee (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0008 | CJ-AZ-0002-0009 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Todd, John Pressley (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-0008 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Weinzweig, David Daniel (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0008 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000
Zick, Jeffrey Alan (Arizona)
CJ-AZ-0002-0004 | CJ-AZ-0002-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -