HELENA, Mon. - Lawyers for the state and for Canadian death-row inmate Ronald Smith are asking the Montana Supreme Court to block his Jan. 31 execution while he challenges the state's execution method.

District Judge John Larson of Missoula set the execution date for Smith last month, just two days after District Judge Jeff Sherlock of Helena issued an order staying Smith's execution.

Larson asked the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing only the sentencing court has the power to stay an execution.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports lawyers for Smith and the state submitted briefs Monday arguing that the case challenging the constitutionality of the death protocol needs to be decided before an execution date can be set.

Smith has been sentenced to die for the 1982 murders of two Browning men.