Hood asks federal judge to lift default order

The state of Mississippi argues in federal court papers that its preoccupation with appeals by condemned inmate Earl Wesley Berry led to its failure to respond to lethal injection challenges filed by four other death row inmates.

In documents filed recently in U.S. District Court in Greenville, Attorney General Jim Hood admits to the error but argues it was an honest mistake and did no harm.

The state’s inaction prompted the federal court on May 5 to find Hood and his office in default for failure to defend the state against a plaintiff’s claim.

In his May 6 motion, Hood asks the court set aside the judgment of default.

On Monday, the attorneys for Berry and the four other death row inmates said in court documents that the state was seeking “to be rescued” from its failure to respond to the complaint originally filed in October 2007.

Clarion Ledger