- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A state agency that defends death row inmates has pulled out of a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s methods of execution.

The move was first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel. It comes as the Tennessee Office of Post-Conviction Defender faced an August hearing before the Senate Government Operations Committee over its involvement in the lawsuit.

State law created the Office of Post-Conviction Defender to represent death row inmates in their appeals. But Republican Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman claims the taxpayer-funded office exceeded its authority when it sued the state.

Post-Conviction Defender Justyna Scalpone initially defended the office’s involvement in the lawsuit. But two weeks ago Scalpone filed a motion to withdraw, citing the pending legislative hearing. The motion was approved last week. A private attorney has taken over the case.

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