United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is defendant Chukwudi Ofomata's
(“Ofomata”) motion to strike the government's
notice of intent to seek the death penalty. Ofomata argues
that the Federal Death Penalty Act (the “FDPA”)
unconstitutionally violates the Tenth Amendment's
anticommandeering principle. For the following reasons, the
motion is denied.
August 31, 2018, the government filed its notice of intent to
seek the death penalty as to Ofomata. Under the FDPA, 18 U.S.C.
§§ 3591-3598, “conviction of an offense
punishable by death is followed by a separate sentencing
hearing which involves both an eligibility and selection
phase.” United States v. Ebron, 683 F.3d 105,
149 (5th Cir. 2012). If a death sentence is imposed, the FDPA
provides for its implementation and the use of state
facilities for execution:
A person who has been sentenced to death pursuant to this
chapter shall be committed to the custody of the Attorney
General until exhaustion of the procedures for appeal of the
judgment of conviction and for review of the sentence. When
the sentence is to be implemented, the Attorney General shall
release the person sentenced to death to the custody of the
United States marshal, who shall supervise the implementation
of the sentence in the manner prescribed by the law of the
State in which the sentence is imposed. If the law of the
State does not provide for implementation of a sentence of
death, the court shall designate another State, the law of
which does provide for the implementation of a sentence of
death, and the sentence shall be implemented in the latter
State in the manner prescribed by such law.
18 U.S.C. § 3596(a).
A United States marshal charged with supervising the
implementation of a sentence of death may use appropriate
State or local facilities for the purpose, may use the
services of an appropriate State or local official or of a
person such an official employs for the purpose, and shall
pay the costs thereof in an amount approved by the Attorney
18 U.S.C. § 3597(a).
argues that the FDPA requires that state officials and state
facilities be enlisted to carry out federal executions and,
consequently, the FDPA violates the anticommandeering
principle of the Tenth Amendment.
Court must first address the government's contention that
Ofomata's motion is not ripe for review. “The
ripeness doctrine's basic rationale is to prevent the
courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from
entangling themselves in abstract disagreements . . . . A
court should dismiss a case for lack of ripeness when the
case is abstract or hypothetical.” Choice Inc. of
Tex. v. Greenstein, 691 F.3d 710, 715 (5th Cir. 2012)
(internal quotations omitted).
It is true that constitutional challenges by defendants to a
particular punishment “are generally not ripe
until the imposition, or immediately impending imposition, of
a challenged punishment or fine.” Cheffer v.
Reno. 55 F.3d 1517, 1523 (8th Cir. 1995) (emphasis
added). But, in addressing any and all ripeness challenges,
courts are required to make a fact-specific determination as
to whether a particular challenge is ripe by deciding whether
(1) the issues are fit for judicial consideration, and (2)
withholding of consideration will cause substantial hardship
to the parties. Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387
U.S. 136, 149 (1967).
United States v. Quinones, 313 F.3d 49, 58 (2d Cir.
2002). “A case is generally ripe if any remaining
questions are purely legal ones; conversely, a case is not
ripe if further factual development is required.”
Choice Inc. of Tex, 691 F.3d at 715 (quoting New
Orleans Pub. Serv. Inc. v. ...