Top court upholds stay of execution

A stay of execution has been upheld by the Montana Supreme Court for Ronald Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith

CALGARY — A stay of execution has been upheld by the Montana Supreme Court for Ronald Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

Smith, a 53-year-old originally from Red Deer had been facing a Jan. 31 execution date at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Mont., after a legal battle between two Montana judges.

Last month, Judge John Larson set an execution date for next month — just two days after Judge Jeffrey Sherlock had issued a stay.

Sherlock is presiding over a civil suit that was filed on Smith’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that Montana’s method of lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel.

That case is on hold while Montana State Prison finishes building a new death chamber and establishes protocol to be used in future executions.