Another Electric Chair Execution Proceeds Over Sotomayor Dissent

By Jordan S. Rubin

Justice Sonia Sotomayor characterized the latest execution by electric chair in Tennessee as “madness” in her latest dissent late Dec. 6 over the death penalty.

The execution followed a familiar pattern as Tennessee put to death inmate David Earl Miller over the latest Sotomayor dissent. Just last month she dissented from the high court’s decision to allow another electrocution in the same state to go forward.

“Such madness should not continue,” the justice wrote, not long before the state killed Miller for the 1981 Knoxville murder of Lee Standifer.

She bemoaned the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Glossip v. Gross requiring inmates to offer alternate ways to be executed if they argue the state’s preferred method is cruel and unusual.

Miller chose the electric chair given how potentially painful lethal injection can be, Sotomayor observed. But being electrocuted to death isn’t a great option either, she said, noting it can also “be a dreadful way to die.”

Miller’s last words, as recounted by media witnesses after the execution: “Beats being on death row.”

The case is Miller v. Parker, U.S., 18-6739, 18A528, stay denied, review denied 12/6/18.