Last week a former Little Rock police officer took the stand in federal court to explain what happened on a night five years ago when he shot and killed a 15 year old. If he convinces 12 jurors he took appropriate action he and the city will not have to come up with millions in punitive and compensatory damages.
The same could never happen if something goes wrong in the planned executions of eight men over 11 days beginning Monday, say defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig and Terrence Cain, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor.
“The 11th [amendment to the Constitution] prohibits [lawsuits seeking] damages against states unless Congress specifically abrogates,” says Cain.
“The state has sovereign immunity in something like this,” Rosenzweig says.