The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on
Thursday was one in a series in favor of inmates who have sought
delays for their execution while they seek information about the
contents of lethal injection cocktails and clarity on who would be
supplying the drugs.
The decisions are likely to delay executions across the country as
lawyers for inmates in other states launch similar efforts on their
behalf in states looking to develop new means of lethal injection
after supplies of drugs they have once used have run dry.
"The state will not appeal the decision," Darryl Campbell, the
executive management officer of the Louisiana Department of
Corrections, told Reuters. The attorney general's office did not
reply to calls seeking comment.
A three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit rejected a petition on
Thursday from the prison system to keep information about the drugs
and how they would be administered secret from Christopher Sepulvado
and other death row inmates.
Sepulvado, convicted of scalding and beating his 6-year-old stepson
to death in 1992, was scheduled to be executed earlier this year but
the execution was delayed in February due to questions about the
Several states have been scrambling to find new suppliers and
chemical combinations after drug makers, mostly in Europe, imposed
sales bans because they objected to having medications made for
other purposes being used in lethal injections.
The states said they have looked to alter the mix of drugs used for
lethal injections and keep the suppliers' identities secret. They
have also turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies.
Those pharmacies can mix drugs, often to meet needs not available in
prescription medication, the pharmacy compounding accreditation
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But lawyers for death row inmates have argued that keeping
information secret was a violation of due process protections in the
U.S. Constitution. They also argued that drugs from compounding
pharmacies can lack purity and potency and cause undue suffering, in
violation of the Constitution.
So far, courts have decided in their favor, with an Oklahoma judge
ruling on Wednesday that the state's secrecy on its lethal
injections protocols was unconstitutional.
On Thursday, a Texas state judge ordered the department of
corrections to disclose the name of the supplier of drugs used for
two inmates scheduled to be executed in April. The state plans an
appeal and has argued it must keep the names secret to protect its
The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily suspended the decision
to compel the prison system to reveal the source of the lethal
injection drugs to allow judges time to consider the issue, the
Houston Chronicle reported.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas;
Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)
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