Supreme Court Takes on Execution Order Dilemma

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The Montana Supreme Court has stepped in to resolve conflicting orders on whether to proceed with the execution of a Canadian man on death row.

District Judge District John Larson earlier this month set a Jan. 31 execution date for Ronald Allen Smith. Two days earlier, District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ordered a stay in execution while Smith challenges the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection method.

Larson says Sherlock overstepped his jurisdiction in issuing his order.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Sherlock to respond within 20 days. The justices say Sherlock must address only the jurisdictional argument, not the constitutionality of the execution.

Smith pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of two men near East Glacier in 1982.

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