- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama is seeking to proceed with executions after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of a drug that the state plans to begin using in lethal injections.

The Alabama attorney general’s office on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss a death row inmate’s lawsuit challenging the use of the sedative midazolam as inhumane. However, an attorney for inmate Tommy Arthur said the case should still go to trial because the Alabama execution process is different from the one reviewed by the high court.

The Supreme Court last month ruled 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Inmates had challenged the use of the drug, given at the start of execution, saying it was ineffective and would fail to render them unconscious while subsequent injections stop their lungs and heart.

Arthur has challenged the humaneness of the state’s current and previous drug combinations.

“Arthur’s allegations against the use of midazolam are practically identical to those that were rejected (by the U.S. Supreme Court)” lawyers for the state wrote. The attorney general office accused Arthur of conducting legal “gamesmanship” to try to delay his execution.

Arthur’s attorney Suhana S. Han said Alabama’s protocol is different than the one review by the justices in part because it provides only minimal guidance with respect to establishing and monitoring IV access and an inmate level of consciousness.

“Alabama’s procedures are far less robust and/or lack such safeguards entirely,” Han wrote.

Alabama hasn’t carried out an execution in two years, after the state struggled to find execution drugs and methods came under court challenges. The state last year announced a switch to a new drug combination that used the sedative midazolam. A federal judge indicated in March that Alabama has agreed to put executions on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court announced a decision in the Oklahoma case.

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