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January 7, 2008

The secret story behind the Baze case

In just a few hours, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the Baze lethal injection case, and this new Los Angeles Times article provide insights into an important back-story surrounding the case.  Here is how the article starts:

The legal battle over lethal injection, which comes before the U.S. Supreme Court today, has been conducted in unusual secrecy, with courts permitting states across the country to keep from lawyers and the public precisely how death row inmates are executed.

In state after state, defense lawyers contending that the execution method inflicts unnecessary pain complain that judges have denied them access to crucial information, including the identity of executioners and details about the drug cocktail used in the fatal injections. State officials have successfully argued that releasing such information could compromise prison security and the safety of personnel.  But lawyers for death row inmates say the restrictions have hampered their efforts to question not only the drugs, but how they are administered.

Among many great aspects of this article is that it quotes Alison Nathan from this recent PENNumbra debate in which I participated.  The article also raises the serious question of whether this case would even be before SCOTUS if states had been more transparent about their lethal injection protocols.

Notably, as detailed here, on state has recently been forced to be very transparent about its execution protocols.  Pursuant to a state judge's order, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has now produced extensive materials on its lethal injection protocol.  (The ALCU has made available here the 632-page binder of Ohio documents showing how the state executes; I am hoping Ohio's good work in this arena will bring good karma in another big event taking place in another arena today.)

Some recent related posts on Baze:

January 7, 2008 at 07:59 AM | Permalink


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No such luck! Sorry about your Buckeyes.

Also, it's "ACLU," but you knew that. :)

Posted by: Anne | Jan 8, 2008 1:38:10 PM

p.s. Also, that is an interesting backstory. Thanks for posting it. Without that information, this case looks mighty silly.

Posted by: Anne | Jan 8, 2008 1:39:27 PM

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