Idaho asks federal court to toss execution lawsuit

Idaho asks federal court to toss execution lawsuit
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Correction has asked a federal judge to reject a lawsuit over the state's method of execution, saying its newly revised lethal injection policy mirrors other states whose methods have already passed muster with the courts.

The motion to dismiss was filed in Boise's U.S. District Court late Friday. It came in response to a lawsuit filed by death row inmate Paul Ezra Rhoades last month.

Rhoades was convicted of three murders in Idaho Falls and Blackfoot in 1988 and sentenced to die for two of them. He argued that lethal injections are frequently botched and that Idaho's protocol doesn't require enough training for its executioners.

Rhoades also contended that there are several other problems with Idaho's execution policy and that they would render his execution unconstitutional.

In the motion to dismiss Rhoades' lethal injection lawsuit, the state claimed that Rhoades' lawsuit was moot because it was based on an outdated 2006 execution policy, as well as a newer 2011 draft policy that was never formally put into effect by the department.

The new policy — adopted by the department late last week — addresses the concerns that Rhoades had with the execution procedure, the state claimed.

Kevin Kempf, operations division chief for the Idaho Department of Correction, told the Idaho Board of Correction on Friday that Idaho's newly revamped policy closely resembles the lethal injection protocol used in Arizona and other states that have already been held up in the appellate and U.S. Supreme courts.

The Idaho Department of Correction has been working with state attorneys on the policy for months in anticipation of the possibility that Rhoades and a few other death row inmates may be executed within the next two years.

Rhoades was given two death sentences for the sexual assault and murder of 34-year-old Idaho Falls teacher Susan Michelbacher, whose bullet-ridden body was found in March 1987. He also was given two death sentences for the first-degree murder and kidnapping of 24-year-old Stacy Dawn Baldwin, a Blackfoot convenience store clerk who was shot to death in February 1987.

Rhoades was also sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the March 1987 shooting death of 21-year-old Nolan Haddon, a Blackfoot man who worked at an Idaho Falls convenience store.