"Hill's Attorneys In Court As Execution Date Looms," is the AP report by Christina A. Cassidy. It's via Law.com's Fulton County Daily Report.
Attorneys for death row inmate Warren Lee Hill will be back in court to challenge the constitutionality of a Georgia law prohibiting the release of information on where the state acquired its supply of a lethal injection drug.
Thursday's hearing will be in Fulton County court. Hill's attorneys are expected to raise questions about the use of an unidentified compounding pharmacy to supply the drug as they seek to delay Hill's execution set for Friday.
Hill's attorneys have also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing he is mentally disabled and shouldn't be executed.
The Columbia Journalism Review posts, "New ‘injection secrecy’ law threatens First Amendment rights in Georgia," by Andrew Cohen.
The pending execution of a cognitively disabled man in Georgia has brought to national light a new law there that has profound first amendment implications for journalists covering death penalty cases.
The so-called “Lethal Injection Secrecy Act,” passed in March, makes the identities of those companies and individuals who make and supply lethal injection drugs a “state secret” that may be shielded from disclosure to the public, the media, or even the judiciary. As a result of the measure, information about the purity and potency of the drugs that are to be used to carry out executions in the state are beyond the public’s reach. So are the identities of the doctors hired by the state to oversee executions.
The shield law was enacted at the request of the state’s Department of Corrections after Georgia officials were roundly criticized in 2011 and 2012 for seeking lethal injection drugs from unlicensed sources as they scrambled to replace diminishing supplies. In 2011, for example, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized Georgia’s supply of “lethal injection” drugs because of federal concerns about how those drugs were obtained by state officials. The measure also directly benefits the dwindling number of pharmaceutical companies that produce and distribute the lethal drugs and that have been the subject of protests and boycotts for their role in the increasingly controversial practice of lethal injections.
"Death penalty case renews scrutiny of Georgia secrecy law," is by Amy Zhang for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
A Georgia law prohibiting the release of information about the drugs used to execute the state's death row inmates may be unconstitutional, a judge indicated earlier this week.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan on Monday agreed to stay an execution for convicted prisoner Warren Lee Hill until Thursday when she hears arguments from Hill's attorneys that the law violated the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
But if the judge fails to strike down the law, First Amendment and media lawyers said the law's broad disclosure prohibitions could also be challenged by news organizations seeking to report on executions.
Known as the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, the provision classifies as a “state secret” the identity of any person or company providing drugs for use in lethal injections. The law essentially hides from the public as well as the courts any information about who makes the drugs and how they are made. It also keeps secret the identity of prison staff and doctors who carry out and assist with the executions.
Similar laws exist in Arkansas, South Dakota and Tennessee, but Hill’s case marks the first time in the country that an execution has been stayed due to a state’s death penalty secrecy law.
In 2011, reports revealed that Georgia, among other states, had illicitly procured a sedative called pentobarbital from an unlicensed foreign wholesaler when domestic and foreign manufacturers stopped production due to pressure from groups against the death penalty. States were forced to postpone executions as pentobarbital became increasingly harder to find.
According to reports, the new secrecy law would allow the Georgia's Department of Corrections to bypass public scrutiny and the international boycott without revealing the suppliers or process.
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins at the link.