Judge rejects efforts to revive lawsuit over Utah's death penalty

Posted at 3:14 PM, May 24, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has rejected efforts by a group of death row inmates to renew a lawsuit challenging Utah's capital punishment statutes.

In a ruling issued Friday, 3rd District Court Judge Coral Sanchez refused to allow another amended complaint to be filed. The initial lawsuit, which was dismissed over statute of limitations issues, challenged Utah's death penalty methods.

Ralph Leroy Menzies, Douglas Stewart Carter, Troy Kell, Michael Anthony Archuleta and Taberon Honie sued over Utah's death penalty methods and laws, arguing that lethal injection and firing squad violate their rights. Menzies and Honie are slated to be executed soon as their appeals have been exhausted.

Judge Sanchez's ruling said that the death row inmates had access to some information about Utah's methods of execution, rejecting their lawyers' arguments.

"There is no basis in Plaintiffs’ facts to reasonably infer that Defendants have endeavored to withhold information about the execution process from Plaintiffs for over a decade. As already explained, Plaintiffs made no efforts to secure information about the Protocol between 2008 and 2023. The only denial of a request for information came in February 2024, several years after the expiration of the statute of limitations for Plaintiffs’ claims," she wrote.

Menzies is currently challenging his execution for the murder of Maurine Hunsaker. His attorneys argue that he has dementia and no longer could be eligible for execution. He is currently being evaluated and a hearing is scheduled for later this year to determine whether an execution can go forward.

Honie is also facing execution. In this lawsuit, his attorneys filed a motion to block any death warrant from being signed until the case is resolved. Judge Sanchez rejected that as "moot" in light of her ruling in the overarching case.

An attorney for the inmates declined to comment on the ruling, but told FOX 13 News late Friday that they would appeal.

Read the judge's ruling here: