Anomalies: Ritual and Language in Lethal Injection Regulations (2008)

32 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2008 Last revised: 21 Jun 2008


The state lethal injection protocols do not regulate lethal injections, but instead describe hypothetical rituals meant to reassure the reader - whomever that might be - that a controlled and orderly process, in accordance with the rule of law, will take place. The protocols are public relations documents, not legitimate legal regulations. Their status of 'non-legal' documents, provisions without legal authority is evident from the fact that they apparently are not governed by state administrative procedure acts.

Keywords: lethal injection protocols, execution rituals, administrative procedure, procedure as ritual, death penalty, cruel and unusual

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Bienen, Leigh Buchanan, Anomalies: Ritual and Language in Lethal Injection Regulations (2008). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2008, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 08-14, Available at SSRN:

Leigh Buchanan Bienen (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL

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