Media Appealing AZ Execution Drug Ruling

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A media coalition will appeal a federal judge’s ruling dismissing arguments that it had a First Amendment right to information about execution drugs used by the Arizona Department of Corrections and the qualifications of its executioners, the Arizona Republic reports. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow told media outlets, including the Guardian, the Associated Press, the Republic, KPNX/12News, KPHO/Channel 5 and the Arizona Daily Star, that they had a First Amendment right to report on the issues, but the state did not have an obligation to turn over the information. Among concerns listed by Snow was a belief that identifying companies that provide drugs makes them targets for anti-death-penalty advocates and discourages them from selling the drugs to state departments of corrections.

Similar arguments were already dismissed in another federal case brought by several Arizona death-row inmates. That decision has also been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No one has been put to death in Arizona since the 2-hour-long execution of Joseph Wood in July 2014. Wood gasped on the execution gurney as executioners pumped into him 15 supposedly lethal doses of the drugs midazolam and hydrocodone. District Court Judge Neil Wake imposed a stay of all executions until the incident was investigated and fully litigated. The stay was lifted this June after the death-row inmates reached a settlement with the Arizona Department of Corrections. The state has not yet asked the Arizona Supreme Court for warrants to execute prisoners, in part because it has had difficulty obtaining drugs to perform the executions.

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