Home » Blog » Criminal Defense » Virginia voters- Urge Governor to veto electric chair use, before his April 10 midnight action deadline

Virginia voters- Urge Governor to veto electric chair use, before his April 10 midnight action deadline

Abolish capital punishment

Call Us: 703-383-1100

UPDATED– Governor McAuliffe vetoed the electric chair bill on April 10, 2016.

Dear fellow Virginia voters-

Please contact Governor McAuliffe online to urge him to veto electric chair use before his April 10 midnight action deadline. The Bill’s final text is here.

April 10, 2016 (Sunday) is Governor McAuliffe’s deadline to veto the bill (HB 815) allowing execution by electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not available. Please urge him to veto the bill. Three hundred religious leaders have already joined in the call for a veto, and the votes in the state senate are too close to enable the necessary two-thirds votes to override a veto.

Mea culpa for having missed this bill. Too often I skim Google news, thereby missing plenty of key state and local news. Thanks to my state senator Janet Howell and state representative Mark Keam for having voted against the bill. The Senate vote is here and the House vote here. Thanks also to Senator Scott Surovell, a fellow Fairfax trial lawyer, for voting no. No thanks to fellow Northern Virginia trial lawyer and Delegate David Albo for voting yes on the bill.

My opposition to the bill is explained in my below opposition email to Governor McAulifee (with my links added here, because URL hotlinks are not available for emails to the governor):

Dear Governor McAuliffe-

As a Virginia voter, I urge you to veto HB 815, which bill would permit execution by electrocution when lethal injection drugs are not available.

The Virginia Senate vote on the bill was too close to override a veto. I understand that April 10, 2016, is your deadline for acting on the bill.

The death penalty is barbaric enough with lethal injection, and all the more barbaric with electrocution, with too many reliably documented instances after executions resumed in the 1970’s of flames shooting out of the bodies of electrocuted people. Consequently, electrocution is far from a painless event, but instead extremely and inhumanely painful for both the electricity torturing the condemned person and also for the flames that can grill parts of the condemned person’s flesh. https://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/some-examples-post-furman-botched-executions.

Please veto HB 815.


Jonathan L. Katz


Sadly, even if HB 815 is vetoed, the law still gives death row inmates the choice between lethal injection and electrocution, with lethal injection being the default execution method if a choice is not made. Virginia has historically been one of the most active executing states after the Supreme Court effectively permitted the resumption of executions in the mid-1970’s.