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May 16, 2014

Lots of intriguing "show me" litigation as Missouri prepares for next execution

As reported in this Kansas City Star article, a number of news organizations, "including The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press, filed suit Thursday against the Missouri Department of Corrections over its refusal to reveal the source of drugs used to carry out executions." Here is more about the suit:

The suit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, alleges that the Corrections Department is violating the Missouri Sunshine Law by denying repeated requests for information about the “composition, concentration, source and quality of drugs used to execute inmates in Missouri.” By withholding access to information that historically has been publicly available, the department also is violating the First and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, according to the suit....

Thursday’s suit [claims] that public disclosure of the information “reduces the risk that improper, ineffective or defectively prepared drugs are used.”

“The constitution thus compels access to historically available information about the type and source of drugs used in lethal injection executions because disclosure promotes the functioning of the process itself and is essential for democracy to function,” according to the suit.

Joining The AP and The Star in the suit are Guardian US, the New York-based digital news service of England’s The Guardian; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and the Springfield News-Leader.

Meanwhile, over in federal court has detailed in this new Reuters report, a "Missouri death row inmate is asking a federal court to allow videotaping his execution, scheduled for next week, to record any evidence of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution." Here is more on this other legal front:

A lawyer filed a motion on Friday in Kansas City on behalf of Russell Bucklew, 45, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 21 for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders in southeast Missouri. Last week, Bucklew filed a motion in the same court to halt his execution because of a rare health condition that his lawyer, Cheryl Pilate, said would cause him extreme pain and possible suffocation.

A videotape would preserve evidence if he survives and wants to oppose another execution or is injured and wants to file a claim, the motion states. It further states that if the inmate dies but suffers "prolonged and excruciating execution or chokes and suffocates to death," the video would be evidence for a claim by his estate. "If Missouri officials are confident enough to execute Russell Bucklew, they should be confident enough to videotape it," Pilate said in a news release. "It is time to raise the curtain on lethal injections."

May 16, 2014 at 05:24 PM | Permalink


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Missouri should adopt a law that "punishes" the defendant by having him shot six times by a firing squad of six trained riflemen using tasers. Since tasers are not lethal weapons the aim is to punish him but not kill him. If he dies we will have to rethink our use of tasers. Wont we? Mizzou will do the right thing.

Posted by: Liberty1st | May 16, 2014 10:21:08 PM

These are frivolous claims, wasting the time of the court. All costs should be assessed to the assets of the lawyers.

First, these substances are not drugs. They are poisons. They unsafe when effective. he execution is not medicine, it is homicide. Shooting a sniper rifle at someone is not surgery, requiring proofs of safety and efficacy.

I have no objection to recording the execution. It just should not be released, since it may cause imitation of both murder and suicide, the Werther Effect. Any outlest releasing the recording, including the Department of Prison should be subject to tort liability in any wrongful death claim proving a link to the recording.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 17, 2014 7:45:33 AM

I didn't know that a federal court had the power to order the state to videotape an execution. Rule 11 sanctions should issue.

Posted by: federalist | May 17, 2014 1:01:30 PM

The lawyer can't win legally, so she is trying to win through a publicity campaign in which this website is participating.

Posted by: Ashland | May 17, 2014 4:05:40 PM

I am from Missura. Show me a firing squad. Be dignified when you kill a human being. None of this needle in the groin stuff like in Oky state next door. Kill with some dignity and firepower.

Posted by: Liberty1st | May 18, 2014 11:50:26 AM

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