The Federal District Court Order is available at the link.
Attorneys Maurie Levin and Jonathan Ross, representing the Texas plaintiffs, have issued the following statement:
“The District Court's Order honors and reflects the crucial importance of transparency in the execution process. We hope that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will finally decide to comply with the law, and cease attempting to shroud in secrecy one aspect of their job that, above all others, should be conducted in the light of day. It is TDCJ's attempt to manipulate the system and evade accountability and the rule of law that compelled this last minute litigation, and the need for a stay of execution to permit Plaintiffs and the courts to review the constitutionality of the means and methods by which Texas intends to carry out their execution."
The most recently updated AP report is, "Judge halts Texas executions over drug secrecy," filed by Michael Graczyk, via the Houston Chronicle.
A federal judge on Wednesday halted two executions in Texas, declaring that the state's prison system must disclose to defense attorneys more information about the supplier of a new batch of lethal-injection drugs.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore issued a temporary injunction halting the executions of Tommy Lynn Sells, a convicted serial killer who was set to die Thursday, and Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, another inmate scheduled to die next week.
Texas officials have insisted the identity of the drug supplier must be kept secret to protect the company from threats of violence and that the stock of the sedative pentobarbital falls within the acceptable ranges of potency.
"Federal judge halts executions over drug details," is by Mike Ward for the Chronicle.
A Houston federal judge on Wednesday blocked the executions of two condemned killers who argued that the state's failure to disclose details about the drugs that will be used to kill them violated their constitutional rights.
In a five-page order, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore also ordered prison officials to disclose the names of suppliers of the drug used in executions, the powerful sedative pentobarbital, among other details concerning the acquisition and testing of the drugs.
"Judge blocks 2 executions in drug-source fight," is by Chuck Lindell for the Austin American-Statesman.
“Texas law does not specify what substance will be used in carrying out lethal injections, but federal law requires that any protocol or method used cannot violate the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment,” Gilmore wrote in a five-page order.
“Until plaintiffs have full disclosure of the product with which Texas will cause their death, they cannot fully develop a challenge to its process,” she wrote.
Gilmore chided Texas lawyers for providing her with the “last-minute disclosure” of a redacted lab report said to verify the potency of the pentobarbital. The redactions, however, excluded important information, Gilmore wrote, including the source of the drug, what tests were performed, who did the testing and “numerous other details essential to assessing the quality and efficacy of the drug.”
Gilmore also ordered state officials to disclose — under seal, and therefore not available for public inspection — information about the pentobarbital, including its supplier, and an unredacted report of the lab tests on the drug.
The Texas Tribune posts, "Federal Judge Orders Execution Drug Disclosure," by Terri Langford.
The Attorney General’s office notified the inmates' attorneys and the court that the state's attorneys will appeal Gilmore’s decision.
"Texas executions stayed by federal judge over state's lethal drug source," by Tom Dart for the Guardian.
In a court filing, Texas officials argued that prior executions using pentobarbital have taken place apparently without the inmates enduring obvious pain and cited a report which says that their latest supply has been "tested by an independent laboratory and found to be 108% potent and free from contaminants".
Gilmore noted in her ruling that the state withheld this information until the last minute.
"Even though the report is dated March 20, 2014, Defendants have delayed the production of the report until just two days before the first scheduled execution," she wrote. "That copy, however, has been redacted to exclude important information, presumably including the source of the drugs, who performed the testing, and where it was performed."
"Judge Halts Texas Execution Over Lethal Injection Secrecy," by Tracy Connor at NBC News.
The battle over pharmacy confidentiality has been playing out in states across the country since drug manufacturers stopped selling their wares for executions, causing a nationwide shortage.
Judges in some states have allowed executions to go forward, while others have raised concerns.
Earlier coverage of Texas lethal injection issues begins at the link. More on the subject in the next post.