A federal appeals court has temporarily halted the execution of Tennessee death row inmate Edmund Zagorski to allow time for consideration of arguments that he had poor legal representation during his trial and sentencing. In a split decision, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of Zagorski’s execution, which had been scheduled for today.
Execution plans remain on hold while the court resolves questions of whether Zagorski had adequate representation. The court set no immediate timeline for when it would decide the issue.
Zagorski’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, had argued on a separate track that the state’s lethal injection method of execution was unconstitutional. Earlier in the week she had notified the state that Zagorski preferred to die in the electric chair because he considered the state’s method of lethal injection a violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Under Tennessee law, inmates have the option to request execution by another method, but the state had refused Zagorski’s request because it said he did not make it in a timely manner.
Henry also had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up questions of whether the state’s lethal injection method constituted cruel and unusual punishment.