Saturday, April 13, 2019

Texas Supreme Court: Supplier of death penalty drug can remain anonymous

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that suppliers of drugs used for execution can remain anonymous.

The court backed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and overturned a lower court’s ruling that said the state must release the name of the drug supplier, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The court agreed with the state’s criminal justice department that revealing the name of the company that supplied drugs for lethal injection executions in 2014 could put the company in danger.

"We conclude, based on the evidence in the record, that disclosing the source's identity would create a substantial threat of physical harm to the source's employees and others, and therefore need not be disclosed,” the court said.

In 2014, a group of death row inmates sued the state, seeking the identity of the drug supplier, arguing that knowing the source of the drugs could prevent botched executions. A lower court’s decision, which the state then appealed, sided with the inmates.

The court’s Friday opinion cited past threats to execution drug suppliers, including one from a professor telling a pharmacy to “beef up” security. That letter also made reference to the 1995 Oklahoma City bomb attack by Timothy McVeigh.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the ruling, calling it “necessary” for the drug suppliers to remain anonymous.

“It is necessary to withhold the identities of these businesses and their employees from public disclosure to ensure their physical safety,” Paxton said in a statement. “The voters of Texas have expressed their judgment that the death penalty is necessary, and this decision preserves Texas’ ability to carry out executions mandated by state law.”

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