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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Nathan Dunlap Death Penalty Case: ACLU Files Lawsuit To Reveal Execution Protocols The Huffington Post | By Andrea Rael Posted: 05/21/2013 6:11 pm EDT | Updated: 05/21/2013 6:17 pm EDT
The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning contending that the state's secretive death penalty protocols violate the public's right to know.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the state's Department of Corrections to reveal its communications with pharmacies regarding what drug or drugs will be used to carry out the execution of convicted death row inmate Nathan Dunlap.
“By refusing to disclose the details of the execution procedure, including the drug or drugs that may be used and how they are obtained, as well as information about the companies that may be supplying the chemicals, CDOC infringes, without adequate justification, on the public’s legitimate right to information about how its government operates with regard to one of its most serious undertakings,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein.
Last month the CDOC sent a letter to compounding pharmacists requesting “sodium thiopental, pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, or similar drug or drugs that the CDOC can purchase” in preparation for what may be the state's first execution in over 15 years. Colorado has only put one man to death in the past 45 years.
The letter had been sent by then-CDOC Director Tom Clements to 97 compounding pharmacies in the state just before his death in March, and was prompted by the rejection of Dunlap's appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"For the first time since 1997, the CDOC is facing the task of carrying out an execution," Clements wrote in the letter. "I am reaching out to compounding pharmacies throughout the state of Colorado in order to comply with state law that the CDOC acquire sodium thiopental or other equally or more effective substance to cause death."