Lawyers seek videotaping of McVeigh execution
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An application for appeal was filed Saturday with the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Timothy McVeigh's scheduled Monday execution to be videotaped.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Friday overturned a lower court ruling that would have allowed the videotaping. Attorneys in an unrelated case are seeking the videotaping, and U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill in Pittsburgh had granted the request.
Attorneys in the unrelated case, a federal death penalty case against Joseph Minerd, want to use the videotape as evidence that the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, barred by the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.
Kathy Ardmore, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, told CNN that Justice David Souter, who has jurisdiction over cases from Pennsylvania, would handle the application for appeal. He could act by himself on the matter or refer it to the full court.
In its argument against granting the appeal, the Justice Department said "It is well settled that the lethal injection form of execution passes muster under the Eighth Amendment..." and said that since a trial date has not even been set for Minerd, "It is speculative that applicant will ever need to make an evidentiary presentation during his sentencing (as the guilt phase of his trial has yet to commence) and speculative that the videotape would support his claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment."
It said the issuance of a stay would override "Department of Justice regulations governing implementation of the death penalty without any demonstration that such regulations are an impermissible exercise of regulatory authority or otherwise contrary to law."
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that the government would do "everything in its power" to uphold a federal regulation barring photographic, visual or audio recording of executions.
Minerd was charged -- under the same federal arson and bombing law used in the McVeigh case -- with setting up a pipe bomb that killed his ex-girlfriend and her 3-year-old daughter in 1999.
Earlier in the case, Minerd's lawyers sought to stop the government from seeking the death penalty on the grounds that he was being unfairly targeted because he is white.
The attorneys cited statistics showing minorities constituted more than 75 percent of the people against whom the government sought the death penalty from 1988 and 1995, but that the number has been dropping since that time.
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