Virginia House of Delegates Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller requested an official opinion Friday from Attorney General Mark Herring on several legal questions related to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s amendment on House Bill 815.
HB 815 originally specified that when lethal injection is not available for an execution, the Department of Corrections may use an alternate method. The Governor’s amendment allows the Department of Corrections to contract with pharmacies or outsourcing facilities to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection.
Delegate Miller (R-Manassas) is requesting an official opinion on three questions related to the amendment:
- Does any state or federal law prohibit the Commonwealth from acquiring the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection from a pharmacy or outsourcing facility in the manner specified in the Governor’s substitute to HB 815?
- Does any state or federal law prohibit a pharmacy or outsourcing facility from providing to the Commonwealth the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection in the manner specified in the Governor’s substitute to HB 815?
- Does any state or federal law prohibit the Commonwealth from using the drugs acquired in the manner specified in the Governor’s substitute to HB 815 for an execution using lethal injection?
Delegate Miller issued the following statement:
“I introduced House Bill 815 to ensure that Virginia continues to carry out the full measure of justice. The death penalty is reserved for the most heinous crimes committed by the most heinous individuals. It is a necessary and integral part of our criminal justice system. While it is not perfect, I am predisposed to accept the Governor’s amendment because it would ensure justice for the victims of those sentenced to die by a jury of their peers.
“There are significant legal questions, even within the McAuliffe administration, about the Governor’s amendment. I requested an opinion from Attorney General Herring to get authoritative answers on whether Virginia can acquire lethal injection drugs in the manner proposed by the Governor, whether pharmacies or outsourcing facilities can provide lethal injection drugs in the manner proposed by the Governor, and if those drugs can be used for an execution.
“It is imperative that Attorney General Herring reply to this request before the General Assembly session on April 20. Undoubtedly the Governor’s office has already consulted with the Attorney General on this issue, so he should be able to quickly provide similar counsel to the General Assembly.”