O'Malley Aims to Nix Death Penalty Ban; Reluctantly Complies with High Court's Ruling

Article excerpt


ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday took the first step toward lifting Maryland's ban on the death penalty but said he will do so reluctantly.

"I do not have the luxury in this job, or the permission in this job, only to enforce laws that I'm in favor of and that I agree with," said Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat.

The governor asked his public safety secretary, Gary D. Maynard, to review a recent Supreme Court ruling that lethal injection is constitutional and to draft guidelines to reinstate injections in Maryland, barred by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2006.

Mr. O'Malley had previously balked at drafting new regulations, creating the de facto moratorium on executions in Maryland.

"Sadly, we'll be moving forward with those protocols," he said.

The Maryland high court barred executions until the state submits new procedures for administering lethal injection, which the General Assembly would have to approve.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that lethal injection did not violate the constitutional ban against cruel-and-unusual punishment.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, ended the state's moratorium after the high court's ruling.

The Tennessee legislature extended a deadline for its death-penalty commission to report its findings.

However, many of the 35 other states that still execute prisoners have wrestled with the issue over the past few years. …