A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Monday denied the Justice Department’s efforts to lift a temporary halt on four federal executions.
The department had appealed a trial judge’s ruling last month that ordered a stay of the executions while a separate legal challenge to the Trump administration’s new lethal injection protocol plays out.
The longest-running of the four lawsuits was filed 16 years ago, and the cases went dormant during the Obama administration amid a shortage of lethal injection drugs.
The first of the four executions was set for December 9. The only other federal death row prisoner with an upcoming execution received a stay from another circuit court.
In July, Attorney General William Barr announced that federal executions would resume with the launch of a new lethal injection protocol that utilizes a single drug, pentobarbital, in lieu of the previous three-drug “cocktail” that was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
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