Thursday, December 3, 2015

Arkansas Court Strikes Down Execution Secrecy Law, Orders State To Disclose Drug Supplier

Arkansas' execution chamber in 1997.

Danny Johnston / AP

An Arkansas judge on Thursday found the state's execution secrecy statute, which attempted to protect drug suppliers from disclosure, violated the state constitution. Siding with death row inmates, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ordered the state to disclose who supplied the drugs by noon Friday.

"Public sentiment about capital punishment does not justify breaking a governmental obligation to disclose the information," Griffen wrote.

In 2013, the Arkansas Department of Correction reached an agreement with death row inmates that, within 10 days of receiving lethal drugs, it would disclose information about them. Just two years later, the state legislature changed the law, however, making that information confidential.

Griffen said the law did not absolve the state of its agreement.

The state had argued that disclosing the information could subject execution drug suppliers to ridicule and boycotts.

"Drug manufacturers are free to not provide pharmaceutical products for capital punishment," Griffen wrote in his ruling. "People opposed to capital punishment are free to object to it, and are free to withhold patronage from drug manufacturers who provide pharmaceutical drugs for capital punishment."

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has already filed a notice with Griffen that they are appealing the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Read the full ruling:

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