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Proposed Settlement Would Limit State Discretion During Executions

A potential settlement is on the table in the lawsuit against Arizona’s death penalty, and the deal would limit the state’s ability to improvise during an execution.

The plaintiffs have sought to rein in the state’s ability to change the execution procedure on the fly, and several points in the proposed settlement address the issue.

For example, the director of the Arizona Department of Corrections would no longer be allowed to make last-minute changes to lethal injection doses, unless they tell the prisoner and get a new death warrant.

“This settlement agreement would cabin that in and place firm limitations and restrictions on that discretion so that he would have to hue very closely to the actual words of the execution procedures,” said Josh Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The state has also agreed not to use a paralytic drug in lethal injections. 

“That’s a very significant result in this litigation," Anderson said. "And one that’s not been achieved by other plaintiffs in other similar lethal injection proceedings."

The settlement agreement still needs final approval from Anderson’s clients. If they sign off, the agreement would then go to the judge to issue an order.

Lawyers for the state declined to comment.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.