"Texas must tell attorneys execution drug supplier," is the breaking news AP report by Michael Graczyk and Paul J. Weber, via the Austin American-Statesman. It's also available from the Houston Chronicle.
A state judge ordered the Texas prison agency Thursday to disclose its supplier of a new batch of execution drugs to attorneys for two inmates set to be put to death.
The ruling Thursday in Austin came one day after attorneys for two death row inmates filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice seeking the information. It was not immediately clear if the agency would comply or appeal the ruling.
The prison agency lost its previous supplier last year after the compound pharmacy's name was made public and it received threats. Prison officials contend the identity of the new drug source should be withheld to protect the new supplier.
The lawsuit against the state agency contends the prisoners cannot evaluate the risk that could result in them being subjected to unconstitutionally cruel pain.
The state attorney general's office previously has said the information should be public and is waiting for arguments from the agency on why the policy should be changed.
Maurie Levin, the attorney for the two men, has issued a "Statement from Attorney for Petitioners in Response to Today’s Ruling by Austin District Court that TDCJ Must Disclose to Attorneys the Source of Its Execution Drugs." Here's the full text:
“Today’s ruling ensures that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will do what the Texas Attorney General has repeatedly made clear that they must do – disclose the source of execution drugs, specifically compounded pentobarbital, to be used in upcoming executions. 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.
‘The information will be disclosed under protective order, so that those facing imminent execution can have the information necessary to evaluate whether Texas' execution process will violate their right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. While we believe TDCJ is ultimately accountable to the people of Texas, and that transparency in this process is essential, the assessment of the broader public's right to know will be made at a later date.
‘Secrecy surrounding the lethal injection process is, as today’s ruling shows, unacceptable. The condemned must have clear information about the drugs to be used, so that the courts can make an accurate assessment of the viability and constitutionality of any impending execution. In particular, pentobarbital for lethal injections now comes from compounding pharmacies, which are coming under increased scrutiny precisely because they are not adequately regulated. Indeed, executions carried out with compounded drugs in other states have led in some instances to prolonged and seemingly torturous executions.”
Earlier coverage of the Texas lethal injection challenge begins at the link.