Alabama Execution Puts Judicial Override in the Spotlight

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Legal rules in most states bar judges from hearing testimony about jury deliberations after a trial is over.

When Alabama executed Ronald Bert Smith last week, it attracted attention around the country. Witnesses say Smith heaved and coughed for 13 minutes during the lethal injection. Alabama’s prison commissioner says proper procedures were followed, but an autopsy would be performed to determine whether there were irregularities. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says as disturbing as the execution was, it’s the way the death sentence came about– through judicial override– that bothers him more.

Andrew Yeager

Andrew Yeager


John Archibald

Alabama is full of big news stories. From the removal of the Confederate battle flag, to gay marriage, to Birmingham's increase in the minimum wage. It's a lot for journalists to keep up with and a lot of great materials for columnists like and The Birmingham News' John Archibald. He discusses the city, county and state politics in forums large and small.

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