- Associated Press - Thursday, May 1, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Two law professors and a civil lawyer have told a federal judge they feel qualified to oversee implementation of the state’s proposed plan to cool down death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1fBduNB ) William Quigley and M. Isabel Medina, faculty members at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, and Paul J. Hebert, a Lafayette lawyer, testified Wednesday they’re capable of monitoring the state’s compliance with the judge’s order that heat indexes on death row don’t top 88 degrees.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, who toured the Angola prison last summer and ruled in December that heat indexes recorded on death row amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, said he’ll appoint either Quigley, Medina or Hebert as special master in the case within the next few days.

“This is a tough decision,” the judge said at the end of Wednesday’s hearing, noting each candidate is well qualified.

Jackson had called on attorneys for the state and several death-row inmates to submit candidates for the special master’s post. Quigley, Medina and Hebert are essentially the three finalists. None of them has experience as a special master.

The state is appealing the judge’s Dec. 19 ruling.

In February, the state proposed lowering the summer heat inside death row by adding air conditioning, providing chests filled with ice and allowing inmates once-daily cold showers.

Quigley, a human rights and civil rights activist who has sued the state on many occasions, and Medina, who has taught the Eighth Amendment to her students, both have been at Loyola since 1991.

Quigley testified he views a special master as “an extension of the court” and said he would “make sure that the letter of the law is enforced” if he is selected.

Medina said she has never been involved in litigation against the state or the Department of Corrections.

“I think I would be a fair and impartial person,” she said.

Hebert, who graduated from LSU Law School in 1975, testified his legal experience includes insurance defense, personal injury, commercial development, child sex abuse, and oil and gas litigation.

He is a certified mediator and licensed arbitrator.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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