US Supreme Court Will Review Florida Electric Chair Case

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - The US Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether electrocution violates the constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment." The Justices will review a Florida case, in which a convicted killer suffered a nosebleed just before his executioners powered up the electric chair, causing blood to drip from the man's facemask as he died.

Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Nebraska are the only four states that require condemned killers to die by electrocution. Most other states have switched to lethal injection.

In making their decision, the US Supreme Court justices will review pictures of Allen Lee Davis's bloody body and contorted face - the same pictures that Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw recently posted on the Internet, along with his opinion blasting the use of the electric chair. Shaw's dissenting opinion followed a Sept. 24 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, upholding the electric chair as a means of electrocution.

Also on Tuesday, shortly after the US Supreme Court said it would review the Davis case, the Florida Supreme Court granted another condemned killer a two-day reprieve to pursue additional appeals of his death sentence. Anthony Bryan had been scheduled to die today for murdering a man in 1983.

Bryan is the second Florida inmate in as many days to have his scheduled execution postponed. On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court postponed the execution of Terry Sims, who was scheduled to die Tuesday. His new execution date is November second.

Florida lawmakers, fearing that scheduled executions may be put on hold until the US Supreme Court rules, say they may pass a law in the meantime giving death row inmates the choice of lethal injection or the electric chair.