A U.S. appeals court rejected Ohio's new three-drug lethal injection process, which included the sedative midazolam, on Thursday morning. This decision was the second such ruling this year.
The panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a preliminary injunction issued in January should stand. An earlier ruling by a federal court said the three-drug execution protocol constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" and thus was unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment.
Defense attorney Allen Bohnert, who represents death row inmates, applauded the ruling.
Attorneys for the state of Ohio argued that experts had testified the sedatives used in executions put death row inmates into a deep state of unconsciousness. Previous judges, though, cited problematic executions that happened in the past from the drug midazolam in Ohio and other states.
The decision by the appeals court casts doubt on executions rescheduled for later this year, including one that Governor Kasich put on hold until May.
The Ohio Attorney General's office says they may consider a full appeals court review or an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ohio has not executed anyone since January of 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.