Journalists and the ACLU are suing the Oklahoma Corrections Department, alleging the decision to close the blinds on a botched April execution violated the First Amendment, reports the Oklahoman. The civil lawsuit filed Monday in Oklahoma City federal court contends that closing the blinds midway through the execution of Clayton D. Lockett kept the media, and by extension the public, from witnessing what the suit says is the most powerful governmental procedure: the taking of a life.
An ACLU lawyer said the state “should not be exercising its most awesome power in the shadows, outside the view of the press and the taxpayers.” Lockett writhed, grimaced, mumbled and shuddered during his April 24 execution, which became a focal point of the national debate over the constitutionality of the lethal injection process and the secrecy laws surrounding the sources of the drugs used. The blinds were closed 13 minutes into Lockett's execution, and media witnesses were escorted out minutes later. The Corrections Department reported Lockett died 43 minutes after the beginning of the procedure of an apparent heart attack.