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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Nebraska May Finally Stop Using the Electric Chair

From Omaha.com: The fate of Nebraska's electric chair will be on the docket today at the Nebraska Supreme Court. The high court will hear arguments on whether the electric chair, Nebraska's sole means of execution, is constitutional.

The case being argued involves an appeal filed by death-row inmate Raymond Mata Jr. But it also could affect the case of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore, who came within days of being executed in May.

The court cited the Mata appeal when it abruptly halted Moore's scheduled execution. The court said the legal questions surrounding the electric chair needed to be resolved before another inmate was put to death in Nebraska.

"We conclude that we acted prematurely in ordering a death warrant before resolving that constitutional question in State v. Mata," the court wrote on May 2, six days before Moore was slated to die.

Nebraska is the only state in which the electric chair is the sole means of execution. Many other states have switched to lethal injection, raising the question of whether Nebraska's chair now constitutes unusual, if not cruel, punishment. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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