Delaware's death penalty was upheld as constitutional on Monday, paving the way for executions -- on hold since May 2006 -- to resume.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said Monday he was pleased the court ruled that Delaware is meeting its constitutional obligations and that his office will be working with Superior Court to begin "scheduling executions as appropriate."
Biden said the three-year delay "caused uncertainty, and I'm glad this has resolved that uncertainty
In its 47-page opinion, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals warned Delaware about "the worrisome course it appears to have taken at times" in executions.
"The record before us reflects an occasional blitheness on Delaware's part that, while perhaps not unconstitutional, gives us great pause. We remind Delaware not only of its constitutional obligation ... but also of its moral obligation to carry out executions with the degree of seriousness and respect that the state-administered termination of human life demands," Circuit Judge D. Michael Fisher wrote on behalf of the panel.
Attorney Michael Wiseman of the Federal Community Defender's office in Philadelphia -- which represents Delaware's 18 death-row inmates in the class-action lawsuit -- declined to comment Monday, saying he was still reviewing the opinion.
In court papers, attorneys for Delaware's condemned inmates detailed problems during executions, including inadequate qualifications and training of execution team members, improper dosages of the lethal injection drugs and odd procedures such as the execution team mixing drugs in the dark.
Attorneys for Delaware inmates essentially charged that because of the state's history of mistakes and because it didn't follow its own rules in past executions, there was significant doubt that the state could properly follow new court-approved rules to execute inmates without unnecessary suffering.