Emory Law Journal


Chad Lennon


Death-row prisoners have long challenged the methods by which states intend to execute them. Recently, prisoners have begun to challenge revisions made by states to their execution procedures, arguing the revisions violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But reviewing courts-almost without exception-bar these challenges on statute of limitations grounds. Courts rule that the prisoner's claim accrues shortly after conviction and that the statute of limitations expires shortly thereafter, no matter when the challenged revision was actually made. Method-of-execution challenges are routinely dismissed in this fashion without full consideration of their underlying constitutional merits. This result essentially grants immunity to states and prevents meaningful challenge to revised execution procedures.