Appeals court wants execution drug details before lethal injection

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Zach McAuliffe
Zach McAuliffe is a University of Dayton alumni with degrees in journalism and English. He wants to present people with all the facts they need to make informed decisions on the world around them. He also enjoys Shakespeare and long walks on the beach with his puppy Lily.

An execution in Arizona has been put on hold by a federal appeals court after the court said the man sentenced to death has a right to know what drugs will be used in the cocktail used to carryout his execution.

Joseph Wood was convicted of the 1989 shooting and deaths of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Dietz, as well as her father Eugene.  Wood was sentenced to death in 1991 and was scheduled to be put to death this Wednesday, but a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this past Saturday Wood was entitled to more information regarding the drugs which would put him to death.

The ruling states, according to the Washington Post, “Information concerning execution protocol is not only of general interest to the public, it is important for consideration by the courts. … We, and the public, cannot meaningfully evaluate execution protocol cloaked in secrecy.”

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“Today the court has made a well-reasoned ruling,” said Wood’s lawyer Dale Baich, according to the BBC, after hearing the verdict, “affirming the core First Amendment principles regarding the public’s right to know, which aid all parts of our democratic government.”

This ruling was brought about after Wood, along with five other death row inmates, sued the state of Arizona for not providing adequate information on the drug cocktail to be used in their executions.  The secrecy surrounding the drugs used in botched Ohio and Oklahoma executions is the central issue at hand, and the six inmates say the secrecy surrounding the drugs violates their constitutional rights.

Dissenting judge on the appeals court, Judge Jay S. Bybee, said in a statement according to the NY Times, the court had expanded the right of access under the First Amendment in order to “bar the state from lawfully imposing the death penalty.”

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