COURT UPHOLDS PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT DEATH PENALTY PROCEDURES

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
July 17, 2015 9:15 am

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ST. LOUIS – Today, the Circuit Court of Cole County agreed that the Missouri Department of Corrections broke the law by failing to honor a Sunshine Law request to disclose the name of the pharmacy that supplied the drugs it uses to administer the death penalty.

On May 15, 2014, the ACLU of Missouri, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Chris McDaniel, a reporter, filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections for violating the Sunshine Law by withholding public information regarding the state’s recent executions, including the name of the pharmacy that supplied its lethal injection drugs. The court ruled that the Missouri law, which requires individual execution team members’ identities be kept confidential, does not permit the Department of Corrections to “define the execution team as it wishes, without limitation.”

“After today’s decision, the Missouri Department of Corrections can no longer hide behind Missouri statutes and refuse the public’s right to know where it obtains execution drugs,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The public has a right to know the source of the illegal drugs the State uses to kill people in the public’s name.”

“When it comes to an issue of public policy as important as the death penalty, it’s disappointing when our government breaks the law. Fortunately the courts stand ready to protect the rights of the people of Missouri,” says Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri.

A copy of the decision and related documents can be found on the ACLU of Missouri website.

The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defends and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed under the United States and Missouri Constitutions, through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. It is an affiliate of the national ACLU.

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