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Baton Rouge Advocate: Court seeks ‘special master’ to cool down death row

Special master to monitor compliance

By Joe Gyan Jr. jgyan@theadvocate.com

MAY 4, 2014

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, who toured the Angola prison last summer and ruled in December that heat indexes recorded on death row amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, said he’ll appoint either Quigley, Medina or Hebert as special master in the case within the next few days.

“This is a tough decision,” the judge said at the end of Wednesday’s hearing, noting each candidate is well qualified.

In February, the state proposed lowering the summer heat inside death row by adding air conditioning, providing chests filled with ice and allowing inmates once-daily cold showers.

Attorneys for death-row inmates Elzie Ball, Nathaniel Code and James Magee — who sued the state in June — replied in March that the plan proposes an adequate remedy for the violation of the prisoners’ constitutional rights, and they urged Jackson to order its implementation.

Nilay Vora, one of the death-row inmates’ attorneys, told Jackson the special master should make regular visits to Angola in addition to monitoring the data recorded at the prison.