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A state attorney asked a federal judge Friday for a quick hearing and ruling about the constitutionality of Nevada’s execution procedure, saying a drug that officials want to use for condemned killer Zane Floyd’s lethal injection will expire in late February.

But U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II did not promise to accelerate the pace of his review.

“We need to continue to expedite this case,” Chief Deputy Nevada Attorney General Randall Gilmer told the judge, who plans at least three days of hearings this month and possibly more next month amid challenges by Floyd’s attorneys of the method, the personnel and the drugs that would be used to kill him.

Floyd, a convicted mass killer, is fighting on several fronts to avoid becoming the first Nevada inmate put to death in 15 years. Other challenges by his team of federal public defenders are pending in the Nevada Supreme Court, in state court in Las Vegas and before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Friday’s hearing was largely about scheduling. Floyd’s attorney, David Anthony, noted the timeline — including requirements for a state judge to issue a death warrant — suggests that no execution could be carried out this year.

Gilmer told Boulware a window closes after the Feb. 28 expiration date for the anesthetic ketamine. Prison officials “have no reasonable belief that we’ll be able to purchase additional drugs,” the state attorney said.

Lawyers for ketamine manufacturer Hikma Pharmaceuticals have called for Nevada to return some 50 vials of the drug that it has obtained. They have threatened to sue if the state goes forward with plans to use it in an execution.

Hikma won a similar fight in 2018 over Nevada’s plan to use the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl in the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier, a twice-convicted murderer who killed himself in prison in January 2019.

Nevada’s execution procedure, or protocol, calls for using ketamine among three or four drugs, also including fentanyl, heart-stopping potassium chloride and perhaps a muscle paralytic called cisatracurium.

Gilmer acknowledged that no one involved in the current process has any experience with an execution.

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