Stop the Execution of Robert Henry

Stand Up to Torture! Tell Gov. Rick Scott No Cruel Cocktail!

Tag: Governor Rick Scott

DePaul College of Law National Lawyers Guild Stand with Robert Henry, Issue Statement Calling for Stay of Execution

Florida Governor Rick Scott wants Robert Henry strapped to a gurney on March 20, 2014, so that dangerous, untested sedatives, not approved by the FDA, can be pumped into Robert Henry’s veins.

People of Florida, the United States, and the whole world have until then to voice their opposition and put a stop to this barbarism.

Citizens of conscience are encouraged to call Gov. Scott at 850-488-7146, email him at, contact him on Twitter via @FLGovScott, and reach out to him on Facebook via, to demand that he stay Robert Henry’s execution. […]

The DePaul National Lawyers Guild eagerly awaits and works for the day when our government leaves the company of authoritarian regimes that kill their citizens. For as long as the state decides to exercise this terrible power, we will do all we can to make sure that the process comports entirely and unambiguously with the law. According to a 2011 Supreme Court of Florida case, “the condemned inmate’s lack of consciousness is the focus of the constitutional inquiry” as to whether an execution is legal.4 Robert Henry’s execution will not meet this standard.

While the DePaul NLG opposes the death penalty under any circumstance whatsoever, we are particularly disturbed by this particular pending execution. We call on Gov. Scott to use his authority to stay the execution of Robert Henry and issue an executive order imposing a moratorium on capital punishment in Florida.

If Robert Henry’s execution is carried out, he will very likely suffer terribly in his last moments. Have no doubt: This is state-sanctioned torture. This execution will further erode our constitutionally guaranteed protections and make a mockery of our already tawdry, racist, and classist criminal justice system.

The decision is in Gov. Scott’s hands. American history has shown that those in power cannot be depended upon to do the right thing unless the people take it upon themselves to pressure them.

Read the full statement here.

Sign the Petition and help save Robert!

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The Punishment of Death is Pernicious to Society…

Photo via Wikipedia

“The punishment of death is pernicious to society, from the example of barbarity it affords. If the passions, or necessity of war, have taught men to shed the blood of their fellow creatures, the laws which are intended to moderate the ferocity of mankind, should not increase it by examples of barbarity, the more horrible, as this punishment is usually attended with formal pageantry. Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detect and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves?” Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment (1764)

***URGENT ACTION ALERT*** Robert Henry Needs Your Help on Monday March 10 at the Broward County Courthouse

The Florida Supreme Court has just granted Robert Henry a hearing in the trial court to decide whether Florida’s use of Midazolam in its new, experimental lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional.  NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.

Monday, March 10 @ 9:00AM
Courtroom 7870
Fort Lauderdale Courthouse
201 SE 6th St., Courtroom 7870



WHAT- Show up to Robert’s courthearing and let the State, the judge, and all of the actors know: YOU will not stand for this travesty being carried out in your name. Robert will be in court and needs to see that YOU are standing up to State-sanctioned torture and oppression!

WHERE – Fort Lauderdale Courthouse,  201 Southeast 6th Street, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33301 Courtroom 7870 – Judge Andrew Siegel – 7th Floor

IMPORTANT – if you support in the courthouse solidarity action, know that you will be searched before being allowed in the courthouse.  Please do not bring any noisemakers or other distracting items into the courthouse or courtroom.   This action is intended to show the support of the community for Robert’s cause; it is very important that you turn your cell phone off and do not speak or otherwise demonstrate in the courtroom: no chants, no signs, no rabble rousing. We do not want to do anything to detract or jeopardize Robert’s legal fight in front of the judge. PLEASE WEAR WHITE TO SHOW YOUR (SILENT) SUPPORT IN THE COURTROOM.


– Let downtown Ft. Laud know what is happening! Join us on the side of the courthouse as we hold signs demanding that Robert’s execution be STOPPED and say #NoCruelCocktail.

WHERE – We will meet outside the exit doors to the main entrance to the courthouse at 8:00AM sharp.

IMPORTANT – Please contact the campaign if you’re interested in this action so we can coordinate meeting times & signs.  Please email us at if you will be joining us.


Share this email with those you know, sign the petition, talk about it amongst your friends, coworkers, in your spare time, in you classes and on social media.

“All too often, torture is part of how the American state administers its death penalty”

Over at the Center for a Stateless Society, Nathan Goodman, the Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Sudies expresses his solidarity with the Save Robert Henry Campaign and his distaste for capital punishment:

All too often, torture is part of how the American state administers its death penalty. Incidents like the horrific death of Dennis McGuire in Ohio illustrate the cruelty of such methods of execution.

Moreover, cruelty and torture don’t simply occur in how the execution itself is administered. Death row itself often features cruel and torturous conditions. The Center for Constitutional Rights has lots of enlightening material on how the state tortures its victims before it kills them. The report highlights, among other abuses, pervasive use of solitary confinement. As I have repeatedly pointed out, solitary confinement is recognized as torture by voices across the political spectrum. […]

The arguments made for the death penalty are all insufficient to justify the torture and premeditated killing it entails. The evidence for deterrence is very weak, with most criminologists saying the death penalty does not provide extra deterrence. And even if the kind of torture and premeditated killing the death penalty involves could somehow be ethically justified for dealing with murderers (and I don’t think it can be), there is substantial evidence that innocent people have been executed by the state.

Let’s end state sanctioned torture and premeditated murder. Let’s save Robert Henry, and all others the state plans to abuse in such brutal ways.

Read the entire post.

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South Florida Lawyers Call for Stay in Robert Henry’s Execution Citing Inhumane Procedure and Unconstitutional Methods

******************PRESS RELEASE*****************

For Immediate Release Mach 3, 2014
For more information Contact the Save Robert Henry Campaign:
Phone: (561) 325-9317
Twitter: @SaveRobertHenry

South Florida Lawyers Call for Stay in Robert Henry’s Executing Citing Inhumane Procedure and Unconstitutional Methods 

DEERFIELD BEACH, FL – A group of South Florida lawyers is joining the chorus of Robert Henry’s family and friends to call on Governor Scott to stop the execution scheduled for March 20, 2014.  Citing to inhumane and unconstitutional procedures, PBACDL, the Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, denounces FL’s current lethal injection process as cruel and unusual punishment.  Robert was sentenced to death in Broward County for the 1988 deaths of Janet Cox Thermidor and Phyllis Harris.  Since Robert has been on death row, he has served as a counselor and mentor to those struggling with addiction issues.  Mr. Henry knows the horrific toll of untreated addiction – his crack-cocaine addiction led to his condemnation to death, and the death of Ms. Harris and Ms. Thermidor.

The campaign launched its efforts to stop Robert’s execution on February 24, 2014.  Since that date, over 1,500 people have signed the online petition calling on Governor Scott to stop the execution.

“If Henry’s execution is carried out, he will suffer excruciating pain,” said campaign spokesperson Talitha Hazelton.  “This is state-sanctioned torture.  Injecting a cruel cocktail into Mr. Henry is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and makes a mockery of our democratic system of justice.  We cannot allow sadistic new protocols to trump Floridians’ commitment to decency and humane treatment of our fellow citizens.”

In September of 2013, Florida changed its protocol for lethal injections.  Previously, the State utilized barbiturates in step one of its three-step injection process, which put inmates in a coma-like state prior to administering the second, paralyzing drug.  The sources for barbiturates have been running dry, however, because of ethical concerns in the medical profession and unwanted publicity for pharmaceutical companies.  Companies inside the U.S. are refusing to sell to state governments, and most major manufacturers outside the U.S. are forbidden by law to export these drugs for executions in the states.

As a quick fix to the drug shortage, Florida has changed the way it does executions: the lethal cocktail now calls for Midazolam, a drug the FDA has not approved for lethal injections. Midazolam is in a class of drugs normally used to treat anxiety, such as Xanax.  It is not a substitute for anesthesia and is inadequate to produce the deep, coma-like unconsciousness required before the administration of the second, paralyzing drug which shuts down the body’s functions.  In fact, no studies exist at all to show the effects of Florida’s megadose of this drug.  As a result, lead anesthesiologists report that Midazolam’s shoddy sedative properties can result in “a sensation akin to being buried alive” for the person being executed.

The suppliers of Midazolam have asked the Florida Department of Corrections to STOP its use of this drug for executions, noting the drug is not intended for that purpose.

Tell Governor Scott to STOP the execution of Robert Henry!  NO CRUEL COCKTAIL in my name! Governor’s office: 850-488-7146, email:

For more information on Robert’s case, follow his Twitter campaign @SaveRobertHenry, visit him on the web at: or contact the campaign at or (561) 325-9317.

Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Calls Florida’s New Lethal Injection Protocol Inhumane and Unconstitutional

The Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PBACDL) has joined with the Save Robert Henry Campaign in calling for Governor Rick Scott to stop the execution of Robert. In calling for a stay of the execution they note in their statement:

We believe that the lack of medical research, coupled with this recent experience in Ohio makes it abundantly plain that this new protocol for lethal injections in Florida does not pass constitutional muster. The experience of Dennis McGuire shows that the process fails to render the condemned unconscious before the second drug is administered. This process is clearly inhumane and in direct violation of the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution’s Eight Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers denounces this new lethal injection policy as inhumane. To allow an execution to proceed in this manner is anathema to our core Constitutional values. As lawyers committed to defending the Constitutional rights of our clients, we call on Governor Rick Scott to stay Robert’s execution.

Read the full statement issued by the PBACDL here

Sign the Petition to help save Robert!

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Leading Physician Calls Florida’s New Lethal Injection Process “Appalling and Unethical”

From The Guardian:

A death row inmate who was executed by the state of Ohio on Thursday with an untried and untested combination of two medical drugs appeared to gasp and snort in a procedure that took an unusually long 25 minutes to kill him.

Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead at 10.53am at the Southern Ohio Correctional facility in Lucasville. His lawyers had warned ahead of the proceeding that the experimental combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone might subject him to “air hunger”, an insufficient flow of air into the lungs causing the sensation of suffocation. […]

A reporter for the Associated Press, which sends a journalist to every execution in the US, wrote that McGuire “appeared to gasp several times during his prolonged execution … McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during the more than 15 minutes it appeared to take him to die. It was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. McGuire’s stomach rose and fell several times as he repeatedly opened and shut his mouth.” […]

The adoption of midazolam as an alternative drug – not only in Ohio, but also in Florida, one of the most active death penalty states – has led to expressions of anger and disgust by leading physicians in the US. Joel Zivot, the medical director of the cardio-thoracic and vascular intensive care unit at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and an opponent of the use of anesthetics in lethal injections, called the use of midazolam in executions “appalling and unethical”, and said, “The public should be concerned that [the] medicines that are used to help them are being diverted instead to kill people.”

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MOTHER JONES: “New Lethal Injections Could Cause Extreme Pain, Make Deaths ‘Drag On’ for Hours”

Over the past several years, international drugmakers and the European Union have banned the sale of drugs for use in executions. This has made the components of the Supreme Court-approvedthree-drug cocktail that states traditionally used to kill inmates—composed of a sedative that left the inmate unable to feel pain, a second drug that works as a paralytic agent, and a third drug that stops his heart—progressively harder to obtain. To overcome this hurdle, Ohio will try to kill an inmate with a never-before-used combinations of drugs, and Missouri will become the third state to execute an inmate using drugs from an unregulated pharmacy. But as Missouri and Ohio’s unprecedented executions approach, medical and legal experts say that they are hard put to predict how much pain these new drug protocols will inflict on death row inmates, or how long convicts may linger before the drugs finally kill them.

“We don’t know how these drugs are going to react because they’ve never been used to kill someone,” says Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor and an expert on lethal injections. “It’s like when you wonder what you’re going to be eating tonight and you go home and root through your refrigerator to see what’s there. That’s what these departments of corrections are doing with these drugs.”

In Ohio, where new rules call for executioners to kill inmates with an overdose of the painkiller hydromorphone, experts worry that some of hydromorphone’s excruciating side effects may kick in before Phillips dies. Jonathan Groner, a professor of clinical surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine who has written extensively on the death penalty, says effects of a hydromorphone overdose include an extreme burning sensation, seizures, hallucination, panic attacks, vomiting, and muscle pain or spasms. Waisel, who has testified extensively on capital-punishment methods, adds that a hydromorphone overdose could result in soft tissue collapse—the same phenomenon that causes sleep apnea patients to jerk awake—that an inmate who had been paralyzed would be unable to clear by jerking or coughing. Instead, he could feel as though he were choking to death.

Because hydromorphone is not designed to kill a person, Groner says, there are no clinical guidelines for how to give a lethal overdose. “You’re basically relying on the toxic side effects to kill people while guessing at what levels that occurs,” he explains.

Many death row inmates are morbidly obese—they leave their cells only one hour a day—or are former drug abusers whose veins have collapsed or are riven with scar tissue. Both factors make setting an IV line extremely difficult, especially when the person doing so is a prison staffer with limited medical training. (Phillips, the Ohio prisoner, testified that during an October checkup, doctors had a hard time locating his veins.) An improperly administered sedative could cause an inmate to remain awake throughout his execution. Denno notes that in 2006, a California judge ruled that there was enough evidence to conclude that 6 of 11 inmates executed since 1978 did not receive enough sedative and died painful deaths. If the hydromorphone IV is set poorly, says Groner, “it would be absorbed under the skin, subcutaneously, very slowly, and that death could be extremely prolonged…It may be painful, and it may take forever.”

Read the whole thing here.

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