Pa. Commonwealth Court says death row inmates' suit to continue

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 16, 2015 10:35 AM

FILE PHOTO: In this Nov. 2005, file photo the combinations and sequence for lethal injection drugs is posted on a wall in a room next to the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

(Harrisburg) -- A class-action lawsuit by Pennsylvania's 184 death row inmates can continue despite objections from attorneys for the state Department of Corrections. 

The Commonwealth Court has refused to throw out the lawsuit brought by convicted Lehigh Valley mass murderer Michael Eric Ballard and four others on behalf of the state's other death row inmates. 

They claim the Department of Corrections has illegally changed the drugs it uses in lethal injections, which is the method of capital punishment used in the commonwealth. 

David Rudovsky, the lawyer for the inmates, say the key issue is whether corrections officials can change the drugs used without action by the General Assembly. 

The Department of Corrections changed the drugs it plans to use because of difficulties in getting some drugs from manufacturers who have come under fire from death penalty opponents.

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