Montana Lethal Injection Challenge Set for Trial

Seven-year legal battle over Montana's execution methods has been scheduled for trial later this summer

By Justin Franz

HELENA — A seven-year legal battle over Montana’s execution methods has been scheduled for trial later this summer.

But before that happens, attorneys representing the state and Montana’s two death row inmates will have one last chance to convince a Helena judge to decide the case without a jury.

Ronald Allen Smith and William Gollehon are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection protocols. District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock will hear arguments by the inmates’ attorneys and the state on Aug. 26.

Medical witnesses will testify on whether the state’s use of the sedative pentobarbital in executions risks undue pain and suffering.

Sherlock could rule on the case based on that hearing or decide it is necessary to hold a full trial on Sept. 2.

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