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NCJ Number: 98716 Find in a Library
Title: Chaney v Heckler and Lethal Injection - Attacking the Drugs to Invalidate the Punishment
Journal: Criminal Justice Journal  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer 1984)  Pages:363-387
Author(s): S Cornman
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 25
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article critiques the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, in Chaney v. Heckler, which held that the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) refusal to investigate and take appropriate action against States' unapproved use of approved drugs as lethal injections for capital punishment is reviewable by the courts under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Abstract: The Chaney court also held that such inaction by the FDA constitues an arbitrary and capricious refusal to exercise its regulatory jurisdiction and is therefore invalid. The case was occasioned by appellants petitioning the FDA to enforce the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) against Texas and Oklahoma. The FDCA mandates that the FDA determine that all drugs are 'safe and effective' for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested on the official labeling. The FDCA need not have been invoked as an argument in Chaney because scientific testimony clearly established that it was improbable that the prisoners would experience inhumane suffering from the lethal injection. The U.S. Supreme Court, which has granted certiorari to hear Chaney, should hold that FDA's decision not to regulate lethal injection drugs is an unreviewable exercise of agency discretion. Even if the Court determined that the FDA Policy Statement and FDCA provided law to apply, the FDA's decision not to regulate lethal injection drugs would still stand because of the overwhelming evidence that the injection process, when properly administered, causes the least suffering of any method of capital punishment. Ninety-nine footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Cruel and unusual punishment; Drug regulation; Judicial decisions
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