Death Penalty

Missouri must reveal suppliers of lethal injection drug, 8th Circuit says

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Lethal injection

Two Mississippi death-row inmates are entitled to find out the suppliers of Missouri’s lethal injection drug pentobarbital in their suit claiming there is a better alternative to Mississippi’s three-drug cocktail.

The St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday refused to disturb a federal judge’s order that Missouri must disclose the information to inmates Richard Jordan and Ricky Chase, report the Associated Press, the Huffington Post and the Kansas City Star. How Appealing notes the coverage and links to the unpublished, per curiam opinion (PDF).

The inmates are alleging Mississippi’s method of execution amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. They say a 2015 Supreme Court decision won’t bar their claim if they can show there is a known alternative method of execution.

Missouri had sought a writ of mandamus to prevent enforcement of the federal judge’s order. The state had offered an affidavit by its corrections director, who said Missouri’s pentobarbital suppliers would stop providing the drug if their identities were disclosed. But the 8th Circuit said the affidavit is hearsay, and his prediction is speculative.

The appeals court also rejected arguments that Missouri didn’t have to reveal the information because of sovereign immunity and the state secrets privilege.

Missouri will ask the full 8th Circuit to hear the case, according to a spokesperson for the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

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