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Top Texas court blocks order that state must tell inmate lawyers about supplier of lethal drugs

Posted Mar 28, 2014 4:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A ruling Thursday by a state court judge requiring the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to reveal the supplier of lethal execution drugs was temporarily blocked Friday by the state's top court.

Apparently persuaded by arguments by lawyers for two convicted murderers that they could otherwise unconstitutionally be subjected to excessive pain, Travis County Judge Suzanne Covington said the TDCJ must provide the drug information to lawyers for Tommy Lynn Sells and Ramiro Hernandez Llanes, according to the Associated Press.

Attorney Philip Durst of Austin said knowing the supplier is critical to determine the purity of the drugs, Courthouse News reports.

"Maybe this stuff was laced with strychnine off the street," he told Covington on Thursday. "We don't know, and they need to know before they inflict the ultimate penalty."

An intermediate appeals court upheld Covington's ruling Friday, only to have its decision overturned later in the day by the Texas Supreme Court. The attorney general's office and state solicitor general's office have argued that compounding pharmacies would be at risk if their identities were known because of threats of violence that have recently been made against execution drug suppliers.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Judge strikes Oklahoma lethal injection law because source of drugs is secret"

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