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VOL. 44 | NO. 19 | Friday, May 8, 2020

Tennessee AG opposes push to delay executions due to virus

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's attorney general is opposing motions to delay executions scheduled in August and October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In state Supreme Court filings this week, Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that attorneys for Byron Black and Harold Nichols are speculating about future public health conditions in their delay requests.

Slatery wrote that the court can take whatever actions necessary if public health circumstances worsen.

Attorneys for the inmates have argued that the pandemic is impeding their ability to do critical work for clemency requests and court proceedings.

Nichols' execution is scheduled for Aug. 4 and Black's is slated for Oct. 8.

The state Supreme Court previously delayed inmate Oscar Smith's execution from June to February 2021 due to the coronavirus. Texas has already delayed six executions due to the outbreak.

Slatery wrote that those were all scheduled from March to early June. Additionally, the state Supreme Court's order currently anticipates most Tennessee in-court proceedings to resume by June and jury trials to restart in July, Slatery added.

"If citizens will be called upon to serve as jurors and return to their places of employment in August, there is no reason Nichols's execution should not also proceed as scheduled," Slatery wrote.

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