Missouri can keep the supplier of its lethal injection drugs secret, a federal appellate court ruled yesterday, reversing its own earlier ruling that the supplier must be revealed, reports the Associated Press. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overruled a Sept. 2 ruling by the same judges that the state must disclose its pentobarbital supplier to two death-row inmates suing for the information. The panel rejected as “inherently speculative” Missouri’s claim that revealing how it gets the powerful sedative could crimp its ability to obtain such chemicals for future executions.
The court said that the drug’s supplier, identified only by the pseudonym “M7”. had made a more persuasive case than its previous arguments. The supplier insisted in court filings since the Sept. 2 ruling that it no longer would provide pentobarbital to Missouri or any other state if its anonymity vanishes, ultimately swaying the judges to side with Missouri. “We conclude that the harm to [Missouri] clearly outweighs the need of the inmates, and disclosure would represent an undue burden” on Missouri’s prison system, the appellate court found. Condemned Mississippi inmates Richard Jordan and Ricky Chase subpoenaed the Missouri details as part of their federal challenge of Mississippi’s three-drug execution protocol, which they describe as torturous and unconstitutionally cruel.