Ohio inmates ask to stop March start of lethal injection law

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Death-row inmates ask federal court to stop Ohio’s execution secrecy rules.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Four death row inmates who are suing Ohio officials over a new state law that shields the names of companies providing lethal injection drugs want a federal court to prevent the law from taking effect in March. In a motion seeking a preliminary injunction, the attorneys claimed the state’s efforts to shield the identities of most participants in Ohio’s execution process violates First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government. “A law which conceals the identities of those about to carry out a man’s death from that man, and from the few who remain by him in his final days, for fear those concealed persons may be dissuaded from participating in his execution by cries for mercy or other lawful appeals is unconscionably callous and has no place in a civilized society,” the motion stated. District Court in Columbus, comes after death-row inmates Ronald Phillips, Raymond Tibbetts, Robert Van Hook and Grady Brinkley filed a lawsuit last month challenging the constitutionality of the new law, House Bill 663. Proponents of the rules, scheduled to take effect March 23, say they are needed to protect individuals involved with Ohio executions from harassment and potential harm. Lawful speech is never harassment.” “The government has no power to now silence its citizens because it does not like their message and the result of their protected speech upon a government policy,” the motion states.

Ohio ran out of its preferred lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital, last year because European pharmaceutical companies refused to continue selling it for use in executions. Supporters of HB 663 say that the state could turn to compounding pharmacies to make pentobarbital, but the companies are reluctant to make lethal-injection drugs unless they can remain anonymous, for fear of public reprisal.

Earlier this month, weeks after the bill was signed into law, Ohio’s prison agency announced it would seek to execute prisoners using either pentobarbital or sodium thiopental, another drug previously used in state executions.

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