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Oregon Death Row Inmate Sues, Is 'Cool' With Being Executed

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 16, 2012 9:01 AM

Oregon death row inmate Gary Haugen wants to die. He's "cool with it." In fact, he's so cool with it, he and his attorney have asked a state court to re-issue a death warrant, which would force the state to carry out his execution.

The move comes after a November 22 order by Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has decided to suspend all executions while he is in office. Haugen believes this move was "legally ineffective" as applied to him because he does not accept the reprieve.

He also calls it cruel and unusual punishment.

Haugen attributes this characterization to the fact that he is now in legal limbo, explains the Oregonian. He can't be executed, yet his sentence cannot be commutated. He must sit on death row until someone decides it's time.

His attorneys also argue that the situation does not meet the definition of a reprieve. Reprieves are limited in time and are meant to give inmates a chance to make an appeal or take other legal action. No one knows when Gov. Kitzhaber's order will end, and Gary Haugen has waived all of his appeals.

He's been planning to die for some time.

The court tasked with making this decision will have little, if any, case law to consider. It's unheard of for a death row inmate to ask a court to order his death. But chances are the judge won't side with Gary Haugen. Death row inmates who aren't put to death are basically serving a lesser sentence -- life in prison. That's arguably less cruel of a punishment.

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