Death row appeal in court, challenging SC law

This undated photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows Richard...
This undated photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows Richard Moore, who was sentenced to death in the 1999 fatal shooting of James Mahoney, a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg County, S.C. Moore is one of three death row prisoners in South Carolina who have run out of appeals in the past year, leaving the state Supreme Court to set and then stay their executions after the corrections department said it didn’t have the drugs needed to carry out deaths by lethal injection.(Carolina Department of Corrections via AP)
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 11:09 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Lawyers for Richard Moore launched an appeal to challenge the South Carolina execution laws changed in 2021. The challenge comes as Moore’s execution is scheduled for April 29. The South Carolina Department of Corrections reported their readiness to use a firing squad. The Honorable Jocelyn Newman presided Thursday as proceedings started at 11 a.m. in the South Carolina Circuit Court.

The judge ruled in favor of allowing Moore’s team to explore whether the state law is in violation of the state constitution. This ruling does not delay Moore’s execution, that is a separate ruling that will be heard by the South Carolina State Supreme Court.

Moore’s execution is the first in the state since 2011. As part of the process he will be asked to choose his method of execution which includes the electric chair and firing squad. The upcoming execution has drawn criticism and divided opinions. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston called the execution, “This is modern-day barbarism.” Lawmakers amended state law in 2021 to allow for firing squads, which was put on hold by the State Supreme Court until further preparations could be made.

Moore’s legal team is seeking permanent injunctive relief in the case, they’re claiming the use of the electric chair and firing squad is in violation of the state constitution. They’re also making a claim that the legislation passed in 2021 is too vague to be constitutional. Arguments discussed the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Moore’s team said only 3 executions by firing squad have taken place in the United States since 1973 and that only 2% of US executions since 2010 have been by electric chair.

The team representing South Carolina asked Newman to consider the intent of the legislation and to look at prior legal precedent, “Judge those facts against the law that exists.”

This is a developing story and will be update as more information comes in.

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