"Court Delays Execution Over Secrecy With Drugs," is the New York Times report by Erik Eckholm.
A federal appeals court has delayed the imminent execution of an Arizona man, saying he has a legal right to details about the lethal injection drugs to be used and about the qualifications of the execution team.
The ruling on Saturday, by a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, contrasted sharply with recent decisions by other state and federal courts defending states’ rights to keep information about drug sources secret.
“This is the first time a circuit court has ruled that the plaintiff has a right to know the source of execution drugs,” said Jennifer Moreno, an expert on lethal injection law at the Death Penalty Clinic of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
The appeals court ruling came four days before the scheduled execution of Joseph Wood, who was convicted of the killings of two people and sentenced to death.
But Arizona officials were not backing down. On Sunday, the state appealed to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration by a wider panel of judges and it appeared possible that the state would appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.
"Court: No execution unless Arizona reveals drug source," is by Michael Kiefer of the Arizona Republic, via USA Today.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Saturday that Arizona must divulge information about the drugs and executioners it will use to put a man to death Wednesday or the execution will not go forward.
Joseph Wood, who killed his estranged girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz, in Tucson in 1989, is scheduled to die July 23.
But his attorneys at the Federal Defender's Office in Phoenix filed suit claiming he had a First Amendment right to know who supplied the drugs that will be used to kill him and the qualifications of the executioners who will carry it out.
Two of the judges in a panel of three sided with Wood; the third dissented.
At issue is a new drug combination that Arizona has turned to because it cannot obtain the drugs it normally uses for executions. That combination, and one of the drugs in particular, a Valium relative called Midazolam, has caused apparent "flawed executions," as the court called them, in Ohio and Oklahoma.
AP coverage is, "Execution of Ariz. inmate is postponed," via the Boston Globe.
A federal appeals court has granted an Arizona death row inmate’s request to postpone his execution until prison officials reveal details on the two-drug combination that will be used to put him to death.
The preliminary injunction granted by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower federal court. It was issued Saturday, four days before the scheduled execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood.
Without weighing in on the ‘‘ultimate merits’’ of Wood’s case, the court wrote: ‘‘Wood has presented serious questions going to the merits of his claim, and that the balance of hardships tips sharply in his favor.’’
"Federal appeals court grants stay to Arizona death row inmate," the Los Angeles Times report by Maya Srikrishnan, via the Chicago Tribune.
Dale Baich, Wood's attorney, praised the court’s decision. “There is a continuing and intensifying debate over lethal injection in the country,” Baich said. “It’s important that specific and detailed information be provided so the public can know about how safely and reliably the death penalty is administered.”
According to court documents, the state argued that the information Wood seeks would offer “little value to the public debate,” and that releasing the information could deter drug manufacturers from providing drugs for lethal injections and could leak the identities of the execution team members who administer the drugs.
The Guardian posts, "Court tells Arizona to reveal provenance of death penalty drugs before execution," by Dominic Rush.
An appeals court ruled on Saturday that Arizona must divulge details about the drugs and qualifications of the medical personnel it plans to use to kill a death-row inmate, Joseph Wood, on Wednesday. If such details are not made available, the execution will be stopped.
Additional coverage includes:
"Appeals court puts Arizona execution on hold over drugs details," by David Schwartz for Reuters, via Yahoo News.
MSNBC posts, "No execution until Arizona reveals death penalty drugs, court says," by David Ingram.
"Appeals court delays Arizona execution over unknown drug combo," at Al Jazeera America.
"Federal Appeals Court Halts Arizona Execution Due To Secret Drug Cocktail," by Ian Millhiser for Think Progress.
Today's Arizona Republic publishes the OpEd,"Improve execution process with greater transparency," by attorney Dan Barr.
Until relatively recently, information about how executions are conducted has been publicly available. The Arizona Department of Corrections used to make execution-related information available when asked. Three years ago, the DOC turned over information about its lethal-injection drugs to death-row prisoners.
In 2013, when the DOC refused prisoners' requests for information about the drugs, a federal court ordered disclosure for three reasons: Executions have historically been open to the public; the DOC has previously disclosed this type of information; and prisoners have First Amendment rights of access to government information related to their executions.
Public access to government information about the manner in which prisoners are put to death improves the execution process itself by allowing the public to engage in informed debate.
Earlier coverage of Joseph Wood's lethal injection challenge begins at the link.