"Missouri death row inmate challenges drug supplier secrecy as execution looms," is the AP report filed by Alan Scher Zagier, via the Greenfield Daily Reporter.
The next Missouri death row inmate scheduled to die by injection wants a judge to halt his June 18 execution over concerns that the state's refusal to disclose its drug supplier violates a law protecting the public's right to know.
An attorney for condemned inmate John Winfield asked a Cole County circuit judge on Wednesday to issue a preliminary injunction that would postpone the execution. The legal challenge argues that the Missouri Department of Corrections is violating state public records laws by keeping the identity of its execution drug supplier and other details secret.
The state says such anonymity is vital to protecting the compounding pharmacy that supplies pentobarbital and its employees from retaliation, including possible physical harm.
"There's not a more public act than executing a prisoner," attorney Joseph Luby told Judge Jon Beetem during a hearing in the state capital. "It's called the Sunshine Law for a reason. We have a strong policy of promoting open government."
Beetem didn't immediately rule on the injunction request but said he expects to do so soon. The execution is in two weeks.
St. Louis Public Radio posts, "Judge Hears Arguments Over Missouri Execution Secrecy," by Chris McDaniel.
Missouri relies on compounded pentobarbital for its executions. The quality of compounding drugs can vary from batch to batch, and Luby argued that knowing the supplier is essential to knowing the quality of the drug.
A St. Louis Public Radio investigation revealed the state's previous supplier was not licensed to sell in the state and had been cited for questionable practices. The state has since found a new supplier but has kept virtually all information about it hidden.
The attorney general's office argued that the secrecy was important for the state's interests in carrying out executions. If the identity of those supplying the drugs were to become public, they wouldn't be able to carry out executions, they said.
"If this information were to get out, there's no putting the genie back in the bottle," said Stephen Doerhoff, an assistant attorney general.
The judge did not seem to be convinced by that argument.
There is another issue in the case, as well. "Missouri Officials Intimidated Prison Employee Who Sought To Halt Inmate’s Death Sentence, Lawsuit Alleges," is by Nicole Flatow at Think Progress.
A Missouri inmate is scheduled to die June 18 for the murder of two women. One unidentified staff member who has worked with John Winfield in the years since his conviction has said he has “not the same person who committed the crime that sent him to death row” and does not deserve to die. In conversations with Winfield’s lawyers, he said Winfield is in the “elite one percent of all inmates” who “shows his remorse for his crime in his every day actions and the life that he chooses to live” and will make positive contributions to the lives of many others if permitted to live.
But on the day after this staff member told his supervisors he planned to write a letter in support of Winfield, he became the subject of an investigation by the prison that threatened his employment status and caused him to revoke his statements, according to legal filings by Winfield’s lawyers.
The staff member, whose name is being withheld because of threats against him, was told he was being investigated for “overfamiliarity” with Winfield. The staff member has been a state Department of Corrections employee for more than 20 years, and worked with Winfield for several years while he was employed at Potosi Correctional Center. The staff member stated that he was a strong supporter of execution at the beginning of his career, but has, over time, “met a few exceptional individuals who have been sentenced to death, but who have become changed men.” He considers Winfield one of those men, pointing to both Winfield’s exceptional work ethic, and numerous examples of Winfield’s “dedicat[ion] to helping those who are in pain.”
Earlier coverage of John Winfield's case begins at the link.