A Montana judge has declared the state's method of execution unconstitutional.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil lawsuit in 2008 on behalf of Red Deer man Ronald Smith that argues the lethal injections the state uses to execute people are cruel and unusual punishment and violate the right to human dignity.
District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has agreed, pointing to problems such as lack of training for the individual who administers the drug and how to determine if the inmate is actually unconscious.
Smith's lawyer Don Vernay says it isn't a major victory but will likely result in a delay of at least another year or two as Montana reworks its execution protocol and the matter makes its way back through the courts.
"So right now, you can probably safely say there will be no executions in Montana in the foreseeable future," Vernay said.
Smith, 54, has been on death row since 1983, after he and accomplice Rodney Munro marched cousins Thomas Mad Man Jr. and Harvey Running Rabbit into the woods near East Glacier, Mont., in order to steal their car the year before. Munro stabbed one of them and Smith shot them both in the head.
Smith is awaiting a ruling from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on whether he will be granted clemency.