"Judge orders Texas to release information on execution drugs," is by Mike Ward for the Houston Chronicle.
Thursday's courtroom drama was the latest development in an increasing fight by states nationwide to keep details from the public about execution drugs, including suppliers' names, amounts on hand, dosages and even the amount of taxpayer money being spent on them.
Several states have passed laws keeping secret the information that just a few years ago was routinely made public.
One reason is an aggressive campaign by death penalty opponents to cut off the drug supplies, first by successfully lobbying U.S. pharmaceutical firms to stop making the drugs most commonly used or to move the manufacturing overseas. In the past two years, European countries that oppose the death penalty have blocked shipments of drugs to be used in U.S. death chambers.
Texas, which has the busiest death chamber in the United States, has been at the forefront of the continuing jockeying for suppliers. Like several other states, it was forced to switch from a three-drug combination to a single overdose of pentobarbital to carry out executions.
The updated AP report is, "Texas Must Tell Attorneys Execution Drug Supplier," by Michael Graczyk and Paul J. Weber, via ABC News.
A judge ordered Texas prison officials Thursday to disclose the supplier of a new batch of lethal injection drugs to attorneys for two inmates set to be executed next month, but she stopped short of revealing the identity of the manufacturer to the public.
The ruling by state District Judge Suzanne Covington came after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice argued that threats against execution suppliers are escalating. The agency recently obtained a threat assessment from law enforcement officers, and pictures on the Internet suggest physical harm against pharmacists making the drugs, Assistant Attorney General Nicole Bunker-Henderson said.
State prison officials have lost previous attempts to keep information about its execution drug supplier confidential.
"TDCJ Will Appeal Judge's Ruling on Execution Drugs," by Aamena Ahmed for the Texas Tribune.
Currently, similar lawsuits are pending in other death penalty states where prison officials are seeking to keep the source of execution drugs confidential.
Because Texas operates the nation's busiest execution chamber in Huntsville, with 511 executions since 1983, including three so far this year, the case is being watched closely nationwide.
The Guardian posts, "Texas prison officials ordered to reveal source of lethal injection drugs," by Tom Dart in Houston.
The ruling in a district court in Austin on Thursday came after attorneys for the men filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) arguing that knowing the provenance of the drugs and their purity was vital to determining whether the inmates might be subjected to unconstitutional levels of pain during their executions.
The outcome follows a decision on Wednesday in Oklahoma in which a judge found that a state law keeping the source of lethal injection drugs a secret to be unconstitutional and in violation of inmates' right to due process.
“The ruling signals, as other courts have done recently, that it is unacceptable to keep prisoners or the public in the dark regarding how executions are carried out – including the source of the drugs,” Maurie Levin, a lawyer for the Texas pair, Tommy Sells and Ramiro Hernandez, said in a statement.
The judge issued a protective order meaning that Texas officials must provide details to the inmates’ lawyers but the information will not be made available to the public, at least for the time being.
Additional coverage includes:
"Texas judge orders prisons to name lethal injection drug supplier," by Jon Herskovitz for Reuters.
"Judge Orders Texas to Reveal Lethal Injection Connection," by Tracy Connor at NBC News.
"Texas Must Come Clean on Death Drugs," by David Lee for Courthouse News Service.
"Judges: Texas and Oklahoma Must Lift Veil of Secrecy on Execution Drug Suppliers," by Steven Hsieh at the Nation.
Earlier coverage of the Texas lethal injection ruling begins at the link.