Federal Judge Permits First-Ever Nitrogen Gas Execution

He denies an injunction to stop the experimental method of execution.

District Judge R. Austin Huffaker ruled that the state of Alabama could proceed with the first known execution by nitrogen gas asphyxiation, denying the involved prisoner’s request for an injunction to halt its procedure. Though three states have approved the method, it will be the first time nitrogen hypoxia, pumping nitrogen gas into a mask until the person suffocates from oxygen deprivation, will be used.

Alabama scheduled this novel execution for January 25 after a convicted hitman became the second person to survive judicial lethal injection in November 2022. Attorneys for the inmate filed a lawsuit to stop the upcoming nitrogen execution, saying that the untested execution method may violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Huffaker wrote that saying the method is untested “has not shown the current Protocol is sure or very likely to cause substantial risk of serious harm or superadded pain.” While the inmate is guaranteed to not undergo a cruel and unusual death, he “is not guaranteed a painless death,” Judge Huffaker wrote, citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent in his opinion. 

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Sources: Reuters, AP


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