The Latest: Judge says death row inmate’s lawyer needs phone
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on last-minute legal efforts by a Tennessee man scheduled to be executed on Thursday (all times local):
A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee death row inmate cannot be executed unless prison officials give his attorney access to a phone during the execution.
The Tennessean reports U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger granted a temporary restraining order Monday as requested by Edmund Zagorski’s attorney. The judge says Zagorski’s attorney must be provided with “immediate access to a telephone during the time preceding and during the execution.”
State attorneys had opposed the phone request but now must provide the phone according to the ruling.
The 63-year-old is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
A federal appeals court ruling against a Tennessee death row inmate removes one of the only obstacles that could have prevented his Thursday execution in the electric chair.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was considering Edmund Zagorski’s claim that his legal counsel at trial was ineffective. The court briefly issued a stay of Zagorski’s execution while it considered the case.
The stay was overturned almost immediately by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the case continued to move forward at the appeals court level.
On Monday, a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 against Zagorski. He was sentenced to death in 1984 for robbing and killing two men during a drug deal.
In a case in another court, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled against Zagorski’s claim that his execution was unconstitutional.
Tennessee death row inmate Edmund Zagorski is asking a federal judge to issue an emergency order putting a halt to his Thursday execution.
Zagorski on Friday filed a complaint in the Nashville court of U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger arguing that it is unconstitutional to force him to choose between electrocution and lethal injection. Trauger dismissed that claim, saying the courts had already ruled on the issue.
On Sunday, Zagorski’s lawyers asked the judge to reconsider. They also argued that they need access to a phone during the execution in case anything goes wrong. Trauger ordered the state to respond by mid-day on Monday on that issue.
Zagorski was sentenced to death in 1984 for robbing and killing two men during a drug deal.