Alabama settles lawsuit with Alan Miller after failed execution attempt, records show

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office is trying to settle a federal lawsuit brought by Alan Eugene Miller, who alleges he spent more than 90 minutes being stabbed with needles on the night he was scheduled to be executed.

According to court filings filed Tuesday, the AG’s office asked US District Judge Austin Huffaker Jr. to hold off asking the state to release the names of the execution team members. The motion asked the judge to delay the release of those names “because the parties are in settlement negotiations and have agreed to a one-week stay of discovery while the parties work on settlement terms.” The judge granted the request and extended the deadline for the list of names to November 29.

Details of the settlement talks were not disclosed.

Huffaker ruled last week that Miller’s attorneys needed to know the names of execution team members in order to investigate their qualifications and backgrounds. He ordered that certain parts of the state’s execution record and names would be available “for the eyes of lawyers only” and not to the public or the media.

Attorneys for the AG’s office were opposed to even disclosing the names to Miller’s attorneys because disclosure could endanger members of the execution team.

Miller was scheduled to die by lethal injection on September 22 at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore — the state’s only prison with an execution chamber.

Read more: Alabama halts execution of Alan Eugene Miller citing time constraints and vein access

His execution was scheduled for 6:00 p.m., but the US Supreme Court did not clear the way for the trial to begin until just after 9:00 p.m. The Supreme Court ruling gave the state nearly three hours to carry out the execution before the death sentence expired. But the state canceled it about half an hour before midnight, citing problems accessing Miller’s veins for the IV line needed to deliver the deadly drugs.

“Due to time constraints that caused the trial to be delayed, the execution was halted after it was determined that the convict’s veins were inaccessible under our protocol prior to the expiration of the death sentence,” Alabama Justice Department Commissioner John Hamm said in this night.

Hamm didn’t elaborate on what was done during the three hours, but Miller’s attorneys said in a later court filing that prison officials pricked him for 90 minutes looking for veins. Miller identified the workers by the colors of the medical gowns they wore because they didn’t tell him their names.

Miller, 57, was scheduled to be executed for his Aug. 5, 1999 shooting spree that left three men dead at two Shelby County stores.

His lawsuit was originally based on his claims that he chose execution by nitrogen hypoxia over lethal injection when Alabama’s death row inmates could make that choice in 2018. Huffaker heard testimonies about this and ruled before the scheduled execution on September 22 that Miller’s claim was credible. The judge issued an injunction preventing Alabama from executing Miller by anything other than nitrogen hypoxia. The state has not developed a way to use the nitrogen hypoxia method, which the legislature has approved but which no state has ever used. This injunction was upheld by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but was overturned by the US Supreme Court.