Appeals court: Texas should reveal execution drug supplier

HOUSTON – the Texas court of appeals panel on Thursday affirmed a lower court that the state prison agency must identify the version of the drug supplier.

The ruling of the 3rd Court of Appeal is in response to a lawsuit and has a limited impact. Lawyers seeking to block the executions of two prisoners in the beginning of 2014 was filed in the suit. A state law that ensures that the name of the drug supplier is confidential force Sept. 1, 2014. The law provides exceptions to the Public Information Act if the release of certain information would lead to a substantial threat of physical harm.

One of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, Maurie Levin, said the ruling means that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice must disclose who the supplier was, at the time the indictment was filed.

“This is not applicable in the present day,” Levin said. “What they need to do is to disclose the level of the supplier at the time of the request. It Is not necessary to provide them with information about the current supplier.”

State lawyers had argued identification of the supplier of pentobarbital to the Department of Criminal justice used for the lethal injection would subject the provider of physical damage, a sentiment the prison agency repeated Thursday.

“We will be appealing to the Texas Supreme Court, the” Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. “As we have said, repeatedly, indicating the identity of the pharmacy would result in harassment of the business and will be serious concerns about the safety for the company and its employees.”

The court confirmed that “base-line principles” and promoted open government and public information, Levin said.

“They’re in the law and how important the principles that those involved in the government of the actions can not be anonymous and may be subject to criticism and protest,” she said. “That is the nature of the beast. That is how the government works. I think that the confirmation of those principles is really important.”

The court of appeals, in a 29-page ruling, focused on the question of whether threats of the damage that is described by the corrections department in the nation’s busiest death penalty state were more than “pure speculation” and rose to the level of “substantial.”

The threats do not, the judge decided.

“The events seem to remind us regularly that almost everyone who participates in our government and its functions face not only the potential commentary and criticism, which is fair game in our free society, but will at some point bear a certain degree of risk of the reactions that extend to physical violence,” the court of appeal has written.

The availability of execution drugs is an issue in many death penalty states, after the traditional pharmaceutical makers refused to sell their products to the prison authorities for execution.

In Texas, the Department of Criminal law, indicating the desired security, has determined that the provider only if you are a licensed compounding pharmacy. Similar lawsuits over drug supplier identities have been raised in other death penalty states.

The lawyers of two Texas prisoners fail to block executions in April 2014 with the arguments that the identity of the supplier was essential to verify the product’s potency therefore it was not unconstitutional pain. But State district judge Darlene Byrne in Austin, which ruled in the lawyers’ suit in December 2014, said the name was a matter of public record.

A court of appeal heard arguments in the case of a year ago.

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