A federal judge in Utah denied an appeal by 74-year-old death row inmate Ron Lafferty to place a hold on his federal case to challenge his execution by firing squad, reported JURIST. Lafferty is one of the longest-serving prisoners on death row in Utah and is scheduled to be executed by firing squad. Lafferty's counsel argued he was not legally competent when he chose to be executed by firing squad 30 years earlier, and this execution method violates his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment . The judge held that the Supreme Court is yet to declare a state's chosen method of execution cruel and unusual. In March 2015, Utah Governor signed a bill [JURIST report] to restore the firing squad as a method of execution. Utah is the only state in the US that allows for death by firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not available. Friday's ruling still allows Lafferty to pursue his case in Utah state court.
Use of the death penalty has been a controversial issue throughout the US in 2015. In a JURIST op-ed, guest columnist John D. Bessler discusses new changes in the evolution of capital punishment.