Tuesday, 8 January 2008

US Supreme Court Argues Lethal Injection Issue

On the day that the Supreme Court was due to start the debate on the constutionality of death by lethal injection, the Chicago Tribune published a very interesting article.

Chicago Tribune 7/01/08

"|Washington Bureau

Several minutes into his execution in 2006, the Florida inmate's mouth was moving and he was gasping for breath. Twenty minutes later, he was still breathing.

That same year, Ohio inmate Joseph Clark took even longer to die. As he was injected with the drugs to first anesthetize him, then paralyze him and then finally kill him, he raised his head and exclaimed: "It don't work." According to the medical examiner's report, Clark was conscious for almost an hour."

"At issue is the three-drug sequence. The first drug, sodium thiopental, is an anesthetic intended to cause unconsciousness. The second, pancuronium bromide, is a neuromuscular blocking agent that causes paralysis. The third, potassium chloride -- which is found in road salt -- is used to cause cardiac arrest and death.

Effective application of the drugs is critical. If the anesthetic doesn't function properly, the next two drugs cause excruciating pain. The neuromuscular paralyzer produces the sensation of suffocation in a conscious person. And an effect of the second agent is that the inmate cannot speak or relay that the anesthetic did not work. Advocates for changing the procedure have pushed for a single drug protocol involving a barbiturate, but no state has adopted it."

Chicago Tribune January 8th

"Court weighs lethal cocktail
Justices' reactions range from derisive to deeply concerned

"WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court grappled with detailed questions of medical science and the pharmacology of death Monday, all against the backdrop of a larger, more overriding concern -- whether inmates have a constitutional right to an execution that is as painless as possible.

The justices heard a challenge brought by two condemned Kentucky prisoners contesting the state's lethal injection procedure. The inmates contend that the protocol, which involves the sequential use of three drugs to numb, paralyze and kill the prisoner, carries with it an unconstitutional risk of extreme pain.

The claim met with hostility from several members of the court, with Justice Antonin Scalia openly ridiculing it. "This is an execution, not surgery," he griped.

The inmates, Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling, argue that Kentucky uses poorly trained personnel to administer the drugs, creating an unnecessary risk of harm. The key to the process is effective application of the first drug, sodium thiopental, a barbiturate intended to anesthetize the inmate in advance of the second and third drugs, which can cause excruciating pain otherwise.

The inmates' lawyer, Donald Verrilli, contended that Kentucky, as an alternative, could use a shot of the barbiturate without the other drugs. Death might take longer, he said, but there would be no risk of pain.

But that was where Verrilli ran into trouble. Several justices complained that the science behind Verrilli's statement wasn't borne out in the lower court record.

"There's a risk of harm generally when you're talking about the death penalty," said Justice Stephen Breyer. He said he was bothered by studies that said the single dose wasn't as effective as the three-drug protocol. "I'm left at sea," Breyer said.

Breyer also was concerned about Verrilli's contention that medical personnel needed to be involved in the executions. (The state forbids it by law.) He noted that doctors consider such work a breach of medical ethics and wondered if anti-death penalty forces were trying to halt executions altogether by insisting on a procedure that could not be carried out in a practical way.

Thirty-six states use a procedure similar to Kentucky's, and a de facto moratorium on executions has in been in place nationwide since the court agreed to hear the Kentucky case.

Arguing for the state, lawyer Roy Englert conceded that if sodium thiopental was administered incorrectly, the prisoner would indeed suffer extreme pain. But, he said, the state had training and procedures in place to guard against it. He said that close monitoring of an inmate by medical professionals during the execution wasn't necessary because if the anesthetic didn't work properly, the inmate "would be awake and screaming."

But critics of the three-drug protocol say the second drug, pancuronium bromide, is a muscle-paralyzing agent that prevents inmates from alerting authorities to their pain. And Englert was pushed by Justice John Paul Stevens to explain why the paralyzer was even necessary.

"It does bring about a more dignified death," Englert said, "for the inmate and the witnesses."

"The dignity of the process outweighs the risk of excruciating pain?" Stevens shot back.

Stevens conceded that the lack of evidence in the record about risks in Kentucky's procedure -- the state has executed only one prisoner since it instituted the lethal injection regime -- meant it was unlikely the court would rule against the state. But, Stevens said, "I'm horribly troubled by the fact that this second drug causes a risk of excruciating pain."

That left the justices in a bit of a bind. At the end of the argument, there appeared to be two roads the court could take. The first involves sending the case back to the original trial court in Kentucky for further proceedings on the state's methods, including whether there might be a better pharmacological alternative.

That idea was not palatable to Scalia, who complained that it would cause a "nationwide cessation of executions while the trial court finishes its work."

The second would be for the court to rule in favor of Kentucky, holding that its procedures are constitutional. That, warned Justice David Souter, would invite another challenge from a state with a more extensive history involving flawed executions.

"We want some kind of definitive decision here," Souter said.



Stop the Mccanns Movie Deal

OK folks. There is a new petition if you want to make it known that you object to Maddie The Movie! The original has become so infested with filth that another has been set up.


Sky News confirms that talks about a movie deal took place in December and that this will be discussed at the scheduled meeting of directors in Rothley tomorrow, Wednesday 9th January.

Sky News

Her parents are considering giving permission for IMG to make a movie or documentary.

Their spokesman confirmed to Sky News Online that a meeting with the firm took place last month.

But he said Gerry and Kate McCann did not attend and stressed nothing has yet been agreed.

Clarence Mitchell said a film would only be considered if the McCanns believed it would help raise awareness of the case or help fund the private search for Madeleine."

What private search? In an interview soon after Madeleine disappeared, Jane Hill of the BBC told Kate that some of the local people of Praia da Luz had been off work for a week searching the surrounding area for Madeleine and did she, Kate, feel like getting out there with them. Kate's reply was that she was doing other things, making posters and organising publicity.

And what of the sightings? The early sightings in Morocco were apparently judged by the McCanns as the most credible, but rather than head off there first, they flew around Europe in a private jet, "raising awareness." When they did manage to reach Morocco, how much searching did they do? Did they trawl the areas where Madeleine had supposedly been seen, showing photographs and asking people if they had seen Madeleine or to keep a look out? Did they go round the market places, where there might have been people from all over Morocco, handing out posters? No! They had meetings with dignitaries, they complained about the plane sent to transport them and they accepted flowers from small children!

Then there was the letter sent to a newspaper in the Netherlands, with a detailed map of where a psychic thought the body might be. Wouldn't any parent in that situation be at least a bit worried, especially as the letter appeared to come from the same person who had given accurate details of where to find a body the year before? No, Gerry was busy fetching friends from the airport!

By the way, there is a rumour circulating that one of the Tapas Crew is in Portugal, making a new statement.

Has the Tapas1 broken ranks and decided to spill the beans? If so, who could it be?

Another excellent forum!


This forum is excellent for archives of articles from the Portuguese press and for news items you might not find anywhere else.

Say no to the McCanns' movie about Maddie!

A petition set up by DM forum member.


The fund, the online shoppe and now the movie! The Panorama programme revealed that the McCanns have been keeping a video diary since Madeleine disappeared. There is also Gerry's blog, most of which has been deleted, but which has been archived and saved by a canny individual and can be accessed by clicking on the link on this page under, "Blogs of Interest." Most of the entries in Gerry's blog from day 1 are there.

The blog, the video diary? Set up with the book and the movie in mind?

Daily Mirror forum for more details!

Addendum: carlymichelle's thread, linked to above, seems to have disappeared and the petition has been invaded by the usual crowd who try to crowd out genuine signatories by posting obscene comments. We know who you are, you trolls! Listed by Paulo Reis. The only place this petition has been listed, apart form here, as far as I know, is the DM forum. So, it's got to be the usual suspects!

Daily Mirror Forum: The hunt for Maddy

McCanns: the movie, the book and directors jumping ship!

Madeleine the movie!

The McCanns are set to turn the story of their daughter into a film.

Kate and Gerry are in negotiations with the world's largest talent and entertainment agency, IMG, in a deal which could be worth millions.

The money would help fund the search for Madeleine amid fears that the £1.2 million raised from public donations will soon run out."

Daily Mail Tuesday 8th January

The Find Madeleine Fund was set up just a few days after Madeleine disappeared and was denied charity status as its scope was not wide enough. The fund is a business, but I am sure that many people thought they were contributing to a charity. A young girl apparently sold her toys on e-bay and contributed the proceeds, augmented from £80 to £100 by her mother. And what have the McCanns done with the cash? They have paid out £50,000/month to Metodo3, an agency in Spain more used to dealing with corporate fraud than finding missing persons. They have also paid the salaries of their PR people and made two months' payments on their mortgage. A meeting of the fund's directors made the decision that the McCanns' legal fees could be paid out of the fund, but on a guilty verdict if the case went to trial, the money would have to be paid back. How? Fifty pence a week from prison earnings?

The Board has taken advice from Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP and Christopher McCall QC. The Board has been advised that payment of Gerry and Kate’s legal defence costs would be legally permissible subject to conditions about repayment in the event of a guilty conviction. "

The objects of the fund:

1.1 The full objects of the Fund are:

1.1.1 To secure the safe return to her family of Madeleine McCann who was abducted in Praia da Luz, Portugal on Thursday 3rd May 2007;

1.1.2 To procure that Madeleine’s abduction is thoroughly investigated and that her abductors, as well as those who played or play any part in assisting them, are identified and brought to justice; and

1.1.3 To provide support, including financial assistance, to Madeleine’s family.

1.2 If the above objects are fulfilled then the objects of the Foundation shall be to pursue such purposes in similar cases arising in the United Kingdom, Portugal or elsewhere."

Part of a statement from the McCanns' legal team:

"What would really help is for the arguido status to be lifted and then a wave of sympathy would lead to more money coming in."

Yes, that's what's needed, another wave of sympathy to swell the coffers! Maybe the, "Best selling items," in the tacky online shoppe are not selling so well!

The online shoppe!

High quality T shirts and wristbands. Buy a wristband, get a poster free!

It would be easy to miss the information about a planned meeting of the fund's directors in Rothley. I missed it on my first reading of the Daily Mail's article on the movie and the book, but it's there. Resignation of some of the fund's directors is on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.

"The meeting tomorrow follows the resignation of key board members, including the fund's spokeswoman Esther McVey.

The fund agreed a deal in the autumn to pay the Barcelona-based agency Metodo 3 a retainer of £50,000 a month for six months to find Madeleine. Metodo 3 has come in for criticism over comments made by its boss Francisco Marco, including one that he knew who kidnapped Madeleine and a promise to find her by Christmas.

The fund has also been criticised for paying two months' worth of mortgage payments, amounting to a few thousand pounds, on the McCanns' home while they were in Portugal and unable to work."

The Find Madeleine web site was set up within 4 days of her disappearance and the fund, I believe, was fully operational and receiving cash by May 17th, just 14 days after the event. Uncommon haste I would say! I guess we might find out later why several directors have resigned, including the fund's spokesperson.

In the words of that movie star I used to admire, "I'll be back," later with more news. Used to admire? Tookie Williams, Arnie! Tookie Williams!

Madeleine: rogatory letters to be delivered this week

Correio da Manha 8/01/08

With thanks to Li of the DM forum for translation.

Correio da Manha 8/01/08

The rogatory letters, are the formal requests to the UK authorities for the McCanns and their holiday friends to be re-interviewed. If those requests are granted, members of the Portuguese police will travel to the UK. They will not interview the McCanns and the others, but will be involved in setting the questions. The interviews will be conducted by British police officers.

Letters should arrive at England this week
Rogatory letters delivered

The rogatory letters where the PJ asks to question again the McCanns and the seven friends that dinned with them the night in which the small Maddie disappeared were sent yesterday early afternoon by the Public Prosecutor of Portimão.

The CM found through a source close to the process that the documents followed through the Eurojust - which provides the link between the various departments of Justice of the Member States of the European Union - and that they will only be in the possession of the British police at the end of this week.

Only from there the PJ can initiate the steps in partnership with the British police. However,this does not mean that the Judiciary will comply with all the requests in the documents.

The delay in sending the rogatory letters - which reached the Public Prosecutor on December 7 - was due as the CM reported in the 12, to the need of examining the documents very closely especially the translation work by the Prosecutor.


Francisco Pagarete , the lawyer who represents the Portuguese-British Robert Murat - one of three defendants in Maddie's case - denies the existence of a fourth suspect likely to be involved in the disappearance of British child, Madeleine McCann. "It is false that I have ever said that there is a fourth defendant in the process. It is also untrue that Michaela Walczuch has been constituted an arguida. Only my client [Murat] and the McCanns are arguidos, "said to the CM, denying statements made yesterday by the newspaper'24 Horas 'and adding that now" there is no news in the process. "

Francisco Pagarete says that he is not aware of an extension in the secrecy of justice. "I do not know if the secret of justice has been prolonged or if it was requested the special complexity of the process. I was not yet notified of anything. In relation to my client, everything remains the same, "he says. Pagarete is confident in the outcome of the investigation, however,he does not reveal what he feels about the outcome for Robert Murat.

The Portuguese law with regard to secrecy within the judicial process of investigation was changed last year and means that eight months after a person has been named arguido (formal suspect) the information held by the police must be made available or an application made to extend the period of secrecy. Robert Murat was named arguido on May 14th 2007. It has been reported that an application has been made to extend the period because of the complexity of the case. January 14th marks the eight month time limit.