Georgia Judge Orders Videotaping of Upcoming Execution

Georgia Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane has ordered that the Department of Corrections (DOC) videotape the upcoming execution of Andrew Grant DeYoung (pictured). The execution was first scheduled for July 20, but after the Georgia Supreme Court upheld Judge Lane’s order, the DOC decided to move DeYoung’s execution to July 21. Videotaping of executions is very rare, with the last known instance in 1992 in California, also as a result of a court order. Judge Lane ordered that the taping not interfere with the execution and that it maintain the anonymity of those involved in the procedure. The tape would be sealed for the judge’s exclusive use. The Attorney General’s office is challenging the videotaping, asserting it could interfere with security and violate state laws regarding who may witness an execution. Lane ordered the videotaping after attorneys for another death row inmate, Gregory Walker, claimed that Georgia’s lethal injection procedure causes unnecessary pain and suffering. Brian Kammer, Walker’s lawyer, said, “At this point, we need an objective recording to eliminate any dispute as to what transpires in the next lethal injection. If there’s nothing to hide, then the Department of Corrections should want to allow scrutiny and a recording of its practices.”

(B. Rankin, “State seeks to stop videotaping of execution,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 21, 2011.) See also Lethal Injection. Robert Harris’s execution in the gas chamber in California in April 1992 was videotaped on the order of federal District Court Judge Marilyn Patel. The tape was never made public and reportedly was destroyed. California later switched to lethal injection as their method of execution. The Harris execution was the first after the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978. Lethal injections have been challenged partly because one of the drugs typically used paralyzes the inmate, making any observation of possilbe pain difficult or impossible.