Today's Tulsa World reports, "DOC files another motion to dismiss First Amendment suit challenging execution access," by Cary Aspinwall.
Oklahoma corrections officials have reduced the number of media witnesses allowed at executions and imposed greater restrictions on reporters’ access, but they argued in federal court filings this week that they are not seeking “to exclude media from executions.”
Attorneys for the state of Oklahoma filed another motion this week to dismiss a federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks to block the state from further restricting reporters’ First Amendment right to witness executions.
The state’s motion argues that “the First Amendment does not grant the public a right to view executions” and that “the fact that individuals are allowed to attend executions does not make it open to the public.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma filed the lawsuit in August on behalf of two media outlets in the wake of April’s execution of Clayton Lockett, when officials closed a blind as the lethal injection went awry, preventing witnesses from seeing what happened.
You can view the state's motion, in Adobe .pdf format.
Courthouse News Service posts, "First Amendment? Not at Executions, Oklahoma Says, by David Lee.
The First Amendment did not give the public or news media "guaranteed access" to the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, Oklahoma prison officials said Tuesday.
The Oklahoma Observer, Guardian U.S. and two reporters sued Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton and Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden Anita Trammell in Federal Court in August.
They claim that while Lockett writhed in agony in the death chamber, the media were deprived of the right to observe his execution when prison officials drew a shade .
"The press was unable to observe Lockett's final moments or eventual death," the complaint stated. "As a result, the public was deprived of objective accounts as to whether, at the time of his death, the state was still attempting to execute Lockett, or in the alternative, attempting to provide medical care after calling off his execution."