Texas Legal History: Lethal Injection
December 11, 2020
Texas Lethal Injection Laws
Texas adopted lethal injection as a method of execution in 1977. The new method was proposed by Democratic House Representative Ben Z. Grant in House Bill 945, which amended Article 43.14 Execution of Convict: Confidential Information in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. This bill was signed into law by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe on May 11th, 1977, and became effective 90 days later on August 11th, 1977. You can view the bill file for HB 945 on the Legislative Reference Library's website.
Charlie Brooks was the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the United States. Brooks was convicted of capital murder in Tarrant County in 1979. You can find Brooks' appellate opinions available in Fastcase, a legal research database. For assistance in locating these opinions, please Ask a Librarian.
- Brooks v. State, 599 S.W.2d 312 (Tex. Cr. App. 1979) (Direct Appeal).
- Brooks v. Estelle, 697 F.2d 586 (5th Cir. 1982) (Habeas).
- Brooks v. Estelle, 103 S.Ct. 1490 (1982) (Stay)
The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit that provides information and research on the death penalty in the United States, including legislative activity, annual reports, historical information, fact sheets, and sentencing data. You can find notable cases and other information about the Texas death penalty on their website. Additionally, you can find the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Execution Procedure document [PDF] as part of a larger list of state-by-state lethal injection protocols.
Human Rights Watch is an NGO that conducts research and advocacy for human rights. In 2006 HRW published a detailed report about lethal injection practices and protocols in the United States titled So Long As They Die: Lethal Injections in the United States [PDF]. This report includes an explanation of Texas's role in the development of lethal injection protocols in the United States beginning on page 15.