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PNS Daily Newscast - August 12, 2020 

Former VP Joe Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate; some schools have science-based metrics for open classroom instruction.

2020Talks - August 12, 2020 

California Sen. Kamala Harris will be on the ticket with Joe Biden in November. Four states had primaries yesterday, and two had runoffs. Georgia and Wisconsin appear to have improved since last time.

Condemned Man: Execution Illegal

April 4, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - A condemned man is still fighting his execution scheduled for tomorrow in Huntsville, after a district judge ruled that new procedures do not violate state law. Lawyers for Cleve Foster are appealing that decision today, insisting that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) ignored the need for a public review process before replacing a no-longer available execution drug.

Co-counsel Maurie Levin says she has genuine concerns about unknowns surrounding pentobarbitol, which is just starting to be used in U.S. executions instead of sodium thiopental. But, she adds, the main demand of her client's lawsuit is government transparency.

"It's about holding state officials who work for us accountable. Those principles of open government are essential to democracy. We can't apply them selectively."

The state argues procedural laws do not apply to certain inmate matters. Levin disagrees, saying the TDCJ unnecessarily withheld its plans for the new drug from death-row inmates for months.

She acknowledges that such legal challenges to capital punishment cases don't always generate a lot of popular sympathy; still, she says, even death-penalty advocates ought to be concerned about procedural violations by the state.

"It is the gravest task that we carry out - the execution of one of our citizens - and what we're asking is that TDCJ follow the law."

In a related matter, attorneys have asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Texas Department of Public Safety to investigate the legality of how prison officials obtain, register and distribute execution drugs.

Maurie Levin is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas Capital Punishment Center. Levin's filings are also on behalf of Humberto Leal, who is scheduled to be executed on July 7, 2011.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX