Arnold Rochvarg


Numerous arguments have been raised to halt the death penalty, including constitutional claims such as ineffective assistance of counsel, equal protection, right to trial by jury, and cruel and unusual punishment. The winning argument, however, in Evans v. State, a Maryland death penalty appeal, was based not on constitutional or criminal law, but rather Administrative Law. A death row inmate attacked the validity of the procedures for administering lethal injection capital punishment because the Maryland Department of Corrections had not followed the proper statutory procedures for adopting the regulation which set forth the capital punishment process. In order for a Maryland agency to adopt a valid regulation, the agency must follow the procedural requirements set forth in the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The Department of Corrections (DOC) in Evans adopted a manual that detailed the procedures for execution in Maryland. The Court of Appeals of Maryland determined the DOC's procedures constituted regulations under the APA. Since these regulations were not adopted pursuant to the APA, all executions in Maryland were put to a halt. Evans is an important case not only for Criminal Law, but also Administrative Law. It is important that State agencies abide by the requirements that govern the adoption of regulations. The Administrative Law argument in Evans also may present a basis for death penalty opponents in other states to challenge their death penalty.