Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Oklahoma Told It Can’t Shield Suppliers of Execution Drugs
An Oklahoma judge ruled on Wednesday that the state could not keep secret the identities of the suppliers of lethal-injection drugs, raising doubts about the executions of two prisoners next month and fueling a growing legal battle in several states over secrecy in methods of execution.
The state argued that a supplier-secrecy law, passed in 2011, was necessary because of a shortage of execution drugs and threats against companies that supply them. But lawyers for the two prisoners, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, countered that without knowing the source of the drugs, courts could not determine whether the execution protocol satisfied the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and prisoners were denied the right to know, and potentially question, how they would be put to death.
Judge Patricia Parrish, of the Oklahoma County District Court, declared the secrecy statute to be an unconstitutional violation of due process in an oral decision from the bench.
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