CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to allow death row inmate William Castillo to join in a challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s method of execution by lethal injection.
Castillo, who last year came within 90 minutes of his wish to be executed for a 1995 Las Vegas murder, argued he should be allowed to be a party to the challenge as a condemned inmate. The challenge was filed by the ACLU of Nevada and had the effect of stopping Castillo’s execution when it was accepted by the court in October.
Castillo asked the court to move the proceedings to Clark County District Court for an evidentiary hearing to develop a record that the Supreme Court could use to determine the constitutionality of Nevada’s lethal injection process.
The Department of Corrections opposed Castillo’s request to join the case, saying that since he has decided to fight his execution and resurrect his legal challenges in U.S. District Court, his request is moot.
While acknowledging Castillo’s “indisputable” interest in the case, the court said his request to send the case to district court could not be accommodated.
The court said Castillo can, if he chooses to do so, challenge Nevada’s lethal injection process in U.S. District Court.
The Nevada Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the challenge to the state’s lethal injection process.
One of the issues raised by the ACLU in the Nevada case is whether one of the three drugs used in the execution serves only to mask the reaction of the condemned inmate to the final drug that induces death, thus violating the First Amendment by not allowing the public and media representatives to see the full effect of the process.
The argument is that the second drug, pancuronium bromide, a paralytic drug, is used only to veil the reaction of the inmate to his death.
The Nevada lethal injection case is still active despite an April 16 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the use of the drug cocktail for capital punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court said in a case out of Kentucky that the drugs used by states for execution are not a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.
All executions in Nevada are on hold until the court rules in the case.