Posts tagged: Idaho execution
Allowing witnesses to view the full process of a state execution could identify or stress the members of the execution team, Idaho prison officials argued in legal filings late Tuesday. The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations say reporters — and by extension the public — should view all phases of the execution to accurately report the events or any complications that emerge. Idaho officials spelled out their legal defense in advance of court-ordered mediation, which begins Thursday under the supervision of Magistrate Judge Candy Dale; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― A federal judge has ordered mediation between Idaho and more than a dozen news organizations challenging the state's policy limiting public access to executions. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge handed down the order Thursday, two days after The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to force officials to let witnesses view executions from start to finish. The suit contends the media and other witnesses have a First Amendment right to view all steps of lethal injection executions. Idaho Department of Correction policy blocks from view the first steps of the process, including insertion of the IV needles into the condemned inmate. Lodge's order requires the parties to enter mediation on or before June 1 under supervision of Magistrate Judge Candy Dale. You can read Judge Lodge's order here; click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.
The Associated Press and 16 other organizations sued the state of Idaho today, challenging its execution protocols that bar media witnesses from viewing the entire process of execution, allowing them to see only the final portion. A 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision from 2002 declared it a violation of the 1st Amendment for media witnesses to be excluded from the earlier portions of the procedure, including the insertion of IVs for lethal injection executions. “This lawsuit is really all about obtaining access to the entire execution process for viewing purposes. It's very important in a society such as ours to have full transparency in regards to the exercise of government authority,” said Chuck Brown, the attorney representing the news organizations.
The press had been in discussion with the state Department of Correction about the process since before its earlier execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades in November, and the department promised to review its procedures after that execution to address the concerns. However, it decided to make no changes, prompting the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court; in addition to the AP, plaintiffs include the Idaho Press Club, Idahoans for Openness in Government, the Idaho Statesman, The Spokesman-Review, and other news organizations from across the state. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone. You can read the full complaint and exhibits here, including letters and emails back and forth between the press and Corrections officials seeking to resolve the matter short of court action.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Idaho's corrections chief says the agency is switching to a one-drug lethal injection for future executions of death row inmates. Idaho Department of Corrections Director Brent Reinke said Friday execution teams will administer a single, lethal dose of the surgical sedative pentobarbital. That's a change from the execution carried out by the agency last fall, when the condemned inmate was injected with three-drug mixture, which included pentobarbital. Reinke says the change was driven by difficulties in obtaining the other two chemicals used to kill Paul Ezra Rhoades in November. The decision makes Idaho the latest death penalty state to switch to using only pentobarbital in its lethal injection. Reinke says the one-drug protocol will be used in the June 12 execution of convicted murderer Richard Leavitt.
A death warrant was issued today for Richard A. Leavitt for the July 1984 murder of Danette Elg in Blackfoot, Idaho; the execution date is set for June 12, 2012. Leavitt's final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on Monday.
Leavitt was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985; he was re-sentenced in 1990, again receiving the death penalty. A federal judge ordered a new trial in 2000 due to issues with jury instructions, but that order was overturned on appeal in 2004. Additional appeals followed, but they're now at an end. Click below for a full announcement from the Idaho Attorney General's office.
Idaho completed its first execution in 17 years in November, putting triple murderer Paul Ezra Rhoades to death by lethal injection.