The Filing in Chester v. Wetzel is at the link.
The Guardian posts, "ACLU challenges Pennsylvania over execution drugs secrecy in federal court," by Ed Pilkington.
The secrecy imposed on the identity of the compounding pharmacy that supplied lethal drugs to Pennsylvania for use in executions is challenged today in an emergency legal motion lodged with a federal court.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has asked judge Yvette Kane of the US district court in Harrisburg to unseal a set of legal documents that contain hidden details about the source of the state’s lethal injection drugs. In tune with many other death penalty states, Pennsylvania has shrouded its execution procedure in secrecy in the hope of keeping supply routes to the medicines open in the face of a tight international boycott led by the European Commission.
The next execution scheduled in the state is on 22 September, when convicted murderer, Hubert Michael, 57, is set to die by an injection of three separate lethal drugs. The execution is currently on hold awaiting the decision of the 3rd circuit court of appeals, but the stay could be lifted at any time which would pave the way for the first judicial killing in Pennsylvania for 15 years.
The condemned man, who pleaded guilty to raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, Trista Eng, has been on death row for two decades and has exhausted almost all his legal options. He would be the first death row inmate in Pennsylvania to be put to death since 1999.
The ACLU’s action has been brought on behalf of the Guardian and three state newspapers – the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia City Paper.
"City Paper sues to disclose supplier of lethal-injection drug," is by Daniel Denvir for City Paper Philadelphia.
Philadelphia City Paper joined three other newspapers today in asking a federal judge to unseal court records identifying the supplier of the drugs it will use in the planned lethal injection execution of Hubert Michael, Jr. which could take place as soon as September 22.
The motion was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on behalf of City Paper, the Guardian US, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and seeks to intervene in a class action lawsuit filed by death row inmates against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Chester v. Wetzel, which contends that the state's lethal injection procedure is unconstitutional because it carries the risk of extreme pain and suffering.
In 2012, U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson ordered the DOC to provide plaintiffs with the identity of the supplier of drugs to be used in lethal injections but ordered that all such information be kept confidential.
The motion filed today by the ACLU contends that the identity of the supplier has been revealed in numerous confidential filings, including documents concerning a Food and Drug Administration investigation related to entities involved in the state's lethal injection supply chain. It is impossible, the motion avers, to evaluate the state's death penalty protocol without examining the efficacy of the drugs—which cannot be done without knowing the identity of the supplier. The death row inmates claim that the pentobarbital that the state plans to use for executions will fail to anesthetize the inmate as ostensibly intended.
"Attorney seeks injunction for York County man facing drug execution," is by Paula Reed Ward in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Hubert Michael, 58, is scheduled to be executed Sept. 22 for the 1993 kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old York County girl.
Gov. Tom Corbett issued a death warrant for Michael in July. That is currently stayed by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal pending a decision for reargument on an issue related to his case. But according to a motion filed on Michael's behalf Tuesday, there is no way to know whether the stay will continue past the date set for execution.
“In light of the recent string of horrifically botched executions, the public is entitled to know how the state obtained the drugs it plans to use to carry out executions here in Pennsylvania,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, an attorney for Michael asked Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court for a preliminary injunction halting the execution, arguing that the state Department of Corrections is not following state law regarding the drug cocktail required to complete the lethal injection.
The 1990 law required the first drug to be given in the combination to be an ultra-short-acting barbiturate. But there no longer are any domestic suppliers of that drug, and the state DOC in 2012 wrote a new protocol, changing the drug cocktail.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Court asked to ID secret supplier of Pa.’s execution drugs," by Joseph A. Gambardello.
Four news organizations, including The Inquirer, filed a motion in federal court Thursday seeking the name of the firm contracted to provide the drugs Pennsylvania would use in an execution by lethal injection scheduled for this month.
The state has said the compounding pharmacy it contracted to supply the drugs would likely refuse to do so if its name was made public, according to the court papers filed in Harrisburg.
In their motion, The Inquirer, Guardian US, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia City Paper said recent botched executions in other states "have greatly increased the public's interest in lethal injection executions."
U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane ordered the company's name sealed at the state's request. The issue emerged in conjunction with an attempt by the American Civil Liberties Union to win a stay of execution for Hubert Lester Michael Jr.
Earlier coverage from Pennsylvania begins at the link.