News organizations are suing the Missouri Department of Corrections to get information about the drugs the state uses for injection executions, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the past, the department had disclosed information about the source and nature of the drugs, but in October 2013, it changed its policies and began denying access to the records. Participants in the lawsuit, filed yesterday in Cole County Circuit Court, are the Post-Dispatch, The Associated Press, Kansas City Star, Springfield News-Leader and the U.S. operation of the British newspaper The Guardian. The news organizations had requested records regarding the drugs, including the supplier, and were denied by the department, which said the pharmacy providing the drugs is a member of the execution team, whose identities are confidential under state law.
The suit challenges the department's interpretation of state law to include the drug supplier as a member of the state's execution team. The news organizations argue the department's refusal to disclose information regarding the drugs violates Missouri's open record statutes, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. A similar suit was filed yesterday by a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. Since the nondisclosure policy was put in place, the state has executed six inmates. Forty additional inmates are on death row.