Retired judge picked to review Arizona’s execution process
PHOENIX (AP) — A retired federal magistrate judge was appointed to review the execution process in Arizona as part of an examination ordered by Gov. Katie Hobbs of procurement of lethal injection drugs and other death penalty protocols due to the state’s history of mismanaging executions.
The Democratic governor announced the appointment of retired Magistrate Judge David Duncan on Friday.
Duncan had previously presided over a lawsuit challenging the quality of health care for Arizona prisoners and was known for criticizing corrections officials and issuing a $1.4 million contempt of court fine against the state for failing to follow through on promises to improve care for prisoners.
While Hobbs didn’t declare a moratorium on the death penalty, Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes said she will not seek court orders to execute prisoners while the review is underway.
The review will examine, among other things, the state’s procurement process for lethal injection drugs and lethal gas, execution procedures, the access of news organizations to executions and the training of staff to carry out executions.
Arizona, which currently has 110 prisoners on death row, carried out three executions last year after a nearly eight-year hiatus that was brought on by criticism that a 2014 execution was botched and because of difficulties obtaining execution drugs.
Since resuming executions, the state has been criticized for taking too long to insert an IV into a condemned prisoner’s body in early May and for denying the Arizona Republic newspaper’s request to witness the last three executions.