On request of a federal appeals court, an Idaho prosecutor says he’ll see if his state’s prison officials will change a policy that prevents full viewing access of an upcoming execution, reports the Associated Press. AP and 16 other news organizations pressed for the change in Idaho policy during a hearing yesterday before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel heard a lawsuit that seeks to strike a portion of Idaho’s regulations that prevent witnesses — including reporters acting as representatives of the public — from watching executions until after catheters have been inserted into the veins of death row inmates.
Appellate judges noted a 2002 federal court ruling in a 2002 California case that every aspect of an execution should be open to witnesses, from the moment the condemned enters the death chamber to the final heartbeat. Idaho Deputy Attorney General Michael Gilmore said his state’s prison officials were concerned that the identities of the five-member execution team might be made public if the execution is viewed by witnesses from start to finish. “They have a very keen interest in their anonymity,” Gilmore said. Judge Marsha Berzon questioned why Idaho should be an exception when other states have decided that entire executions can be seen by the public. “California has been doing it. Ohio has been doing it. Arizona just announced they are going to do it,” Berzon said. “You haven’t put anything in the record that Idaho is different in this regard. That you haven’t done.”