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Idaho Capital Punishment News - Page 3
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  1. #21
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Trial begins in lawsuit over Idaho execution records

    By REBECCA BOONE
    The Associated Press

    BOISE, Idaho - An attorney for a University of Idaho professor seeking access to public records on drugs used during the state's most recent executions says the Department of Correction acted in bad faith and frivolously denied her client access to the documents.

    Molly Kafka, an ACLU-Idaho attorney representing Aliza Cover, made the argument during opening statements in Ada County's 4th District Court Monday morning.

    Cover and the ACLU sued last year, asking a judge to force the state to turn over the documents so the public can assess the suitability of the drugs and how they were obtained.

    IDOC attorney Jessica Kuehn told Judge Lynn Norton the state has already given Cover all the records that could be legally released under department rules, and that officials provided her more information that was tangentially related to her request in the interest of transparency.

    Kuehn said the records that were withheld weren't subject to release because the Board of Correction has the discretion under state law to exempt the release of records that could threaten security or prevent the department from carrying out executions.

    "This is not the proper proceeding to challenge the wisdom of the Idaho Board of Correction," or the Legislature's rules that give the board the discretion to determine which execution records may be safely released, Kuehn said.

    Kafka said the Board of Correction didn't actually make any determination that the need for secrecy outweighed the public's right to know, but rather said the state reflexively denied access to the documents.

    She said she would present witnesses including Jeanne Woodford, who carried out four executions while she was the warden of San Quentin State Prison in California and is now an opponent of the death penalty.

    She said Woodford will testify that reducing the secrecy surrounding executions had no negative effects.

    "IDOC is relying on speculation and fear rather than data," Kafka said.

    The case began after Cover filed a public record request with the Department of Correction in 2017 seeking receipts, purchase orders, paperwork and other documents on the drugs the state used in its two most recent executions along with any documents on the drugs it expects to use in future executions.

    The department provided her with documents detailing Idaho's execution policies, but refused to turn over the other documents, contending the information was exempt.

    The issue has arisen in court cases around the country as prison officials face increasing difficulty in obtaining the drugs used for lethal injections.

    Many prison officials fear that revealing where they obtain the drugs will cause their remaining suppliers to dry up.

    Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced in 2016 that it would not provide lethal injection drugs to states, and the following year asked states to return any of the drugs that they had previously obtained.

    With most traditional suppliers gone, some states have turned to compounding pharmacies or foreign countries to purchase the drugs.

    Increasingly, condemned inmates are also challenging the suitability of lethal injection drugs in court, arguing that the drugs often don't work as planned and contending that there are no longer any legitimate sources of the drugs available to prisons.

    Inmates in some states, like Tennessee, have opted for electrocution rather than risk what they fear could be a botched attempt at lethal injection.

    https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/ne...225185845.html

  2. #22
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    Idaho judge urged to force disclosure of execution drugs

    Idaho's attempt to withhold information about the source of its lethal injection drugs is similar to hiding the type of ammunition used by firing squads or the brand of rope used in a hanging, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho told a state judge on Monday.

    The arguments from the ACLU's Ritchie Eppink came at the close of a trial pitting the Idaho Department of Corrections against a University of Idaho professor who sued for access to execution documents under the state's Public Records Act.

    Similar lawsuits have been filed across the U.S. in recent years with varying results, as prison officials struggle to find lethal injection drug suppliers in the wake of sometimes botched executions.

    Professor Aliza Cover, who studies how the public interacts with the death penalty, requested the documents from prison officials in 2017. She sued after the state largely denied her request, and Judge Lynn Norton heard closing arguments in the case on Monday.

    Idaho Department of Correction officials fear that revealing information about where they obtained the lethal drugs used in executions in 2011 and 2012 will prompt protests by anti-death penalty advocates and cause other lethal drug suppliers to refuse to sell to the state.

    "The public has an interest in its public agencies carrying out lawful orders, which the death warrant is," said corrections department attorney Jessica Kuehn, referring to the court document that orders an execution to be carried out.

    But she characterized the public interest in the source of execution chemicals as "minuscule."

    Kuehn said the Idaho Legislature has given the Board of Correction the authority to determine which documents to withhold from public record releases, and the courtroom is not the forum to contest that.

    But Cover's attorney said her record request was essentially a request for public reassurance that the state is acting appropriately and not resorting to illegal, unethical or unsavory drug suppliers when carrying out executions, Eppink said.

    "Instead, the department argues, 'If we told you where this came from, the public might not allow you to do it again,'" Eppink said. "The Legislature or the market might respond by removing these suppliers from the options that we as society consider acceptable."

    Other states have faced similar lawsuits with mixed results. In Arizona, news organizations including The Associated Press sued in hopes of finding out where prison officials sourced their execution drugs, but a federal judge ruled in 2017 that the media outlets did not show they had a First Amendment right to the information.

    A public record lawsuit in Nevada forced that state to reveal the types of drugs it planned to use for lethal injections, and that information prompted three pharmaceutical companies to sue to stop the state from using their drugs in executions.

    The pharmaceutical companies contended Nevada prison officials obtained the drugs by subterfuge by having them shipped to a non-prison address. That lawsuit is ongoing.

    A Nebraska judge ordered prison officials there to release public records related to lethal injection drugs including records that identify the state's supplier and pay court costs to the ACLU and two newspapers who sued for the information. Prison officials have appealed that decision and the records remain undisclosed.

    Eppink claimed the Idaho corrections department had a pattern of hiding, losing or destroying documents rather than providing them to people who seek them under the state's Public Records Act. He said the department administers the death penalty on behalf of the public, and the public deserves to know if that responsibility is being carried out well.

    "When the department's team injects those drugs, we all push those drugs in," Eppink said. "To prevent the public from putting sunshine onto that apparatus ... suggests we are so ashamed we must hide it like a profound regret."

    Kuehn acknowledged that the department has record retention problems and said officials are working on the issue.

    Norton said she will begin deliberating on the case on Feb. 13 and will issue a written ruling sometime later.

    https://abcnews.go.com/beta-story-co...drugs-60839710
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  3. #23
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    When will Idaho have another execution and who do you think it will be?

  4. #24
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    In 2-3 years if Pizzuto gets denied by the 9th.

  5. #25
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    Idaho prison officials fought to keep lethal injection info private. A judge disagrees.

    By Rebecca Boone
    The Associated Press

    BOISE, Idaho - Idaho prison officials must release several documents on the death penalty, a judge ruled, including some that will reveal where the state obtained the lethal injection drugs used in its last execution seven years ago.

    Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton found Thursday that the Idaho Department of Correction acted frivolously and withheld the information in bad faith when it mostly denied a public record request from University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover in 2017.

    “We are studying the ruling and weighing our options with legal counsel,” Correction Department spokesman Jeff Ray wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

    Prison officials have long said they fear they won’t be able to obtain drugs for future executions if their potential sources believe they could be exposed. Major pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell medications to states if they think they will be used for executions, forcing some states to look for more novel sources, including compounding pharmacies and drugs from other countries like India.

    In her ruling, Norton said Idaho must release a receipt from the compounding pharmacy that provided the drugs used in Richard Albert Leavitt’s execution in 2012.

    The receipt was for drugs expected to be used in a later execution, but none has occurred since then, and the compounding pharmacy is no longer allowed to provide chemicals to Idaho because it can’t comply with current regulations.

    Because the information wouldn’t likely have an effect on future executions, the document should be released, Norton said.

    Still, the department can withhold part of a document that might expose future suppliers of lethal injection drugs, the judge said, including the source that supplied the drugs used in Paul Ezra Rhoades’ execution in 2011, because it may still be in the business of providing lethal injection drugs.

    “The information ... falls within a narrow statutory and rule exemption that permits withholding of a potential future source for lethal injection drugs or chemicals and that the agency’s interest in confidentiality and security outweigh the public interest in knowing this lethal injection drug supply source,” she wrote.

    Norton also found Ray, the department’s spokesman, acted in bad faith by trusting that other prison officials would get him the right documents to release, rather than finding and reviewing them himself.

    “Ray was clearly the designated records custodian for IDOC tasked with the statutory responsibility for maintaining and releasing those records, had been trained in public disclosure, and knew the records existed,” Norton wrote. “Yet, he did nothing to fulfill his responsibilities other than trust that others would.”

    Because of that, Ray must pay a $1,000 fine for failing to hand over the records, Norton said.

    She also found the department acted frivolously by neglecting to provide more than 600 pages of documents and ordered it to pay court costs and attorney’s fees for Cover, the professor who sought the information.

    The department doesn’t have to reveal the identities of those who serve on execution and medical teams because they could potentially be at risk, the judge said.

    Cover said in a statement that Norton’s decision brings the state closer to transparency.

    “When the state keeps secret basic information about the death penalty, the public cannot ensure that it is carried out humanely or constitutionally,” Cover said.

    Molly Kafka, an American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho attorney who helped represent Cover in the lawsuit, said the ruling makes it clear that the Correction Department is not above the law.

    “Government officials across Idaho need to stop playing games with the Public Records Act,” the attorney said.

    https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/...228275629.html

  6. #26
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    Idaho lawmakers approve execution-drug secrecy rule

    Lawmakers have approved a new administrative rule for Idaho's prison system designed to ensure secrecy surrounding the source of the state's lethal injection drugs.

    It's not yet clear if the rule will interfere with an ongoing lawsuit brought by University of Idaho Professor Aliza Cover, who sued the Idaho Department of Correction seeking access to lethal injection documents under Idaho's Public Records law two years ago. Cover largely won at the state court level, but the department appealed and the Idaho Supreme Court is expected to hear the case at some point this year.

    Like previous versions, the rule forbids the Idaho Department of Correction from disclosing under any circumstance information that department director Josh Tewalt determines could jeopardize the department's ability to carry out an execution. The new version also specifically forbids the release of information that could potentially identify both past and future suppliers of lethal injection drugs.

    Cover, ACLU policy director Kathy Griesmyer and a lobbyist representing the Idaho Press Club testified against the rule on Wednesday, each telling lawmakers that they were concerned the rule limits government transparency.

    The Idaho Press Club looks critically at any policy that reduces transparency and potentially erodes the Idaho Public Records Act, lobbyist Ken Burgess told lawmakers.

    He said the rule gives prison officials unprecedented discretion and authority, and said the Idaho Press Club is worried that approving the rule sets a dangerous precedent for future rule changes.

    But Idaho Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt said the rule aims to ensure that the integrity of the execution process is maintained.

    Most details that anybody could want are already publicly available, Tewalt said. But he said it was important for the state to protect the source of execution drugs from disclosure, because maintaining the department's access to the drugs is critical to the execution process.

    Prison officials have maintained that releasing the source of execution drugs would potentially subject the source to negative attention or protests, potentially causing the source to no longer be willing to provide the lethal chemicals.

    This is a heavily litigated area, Tewalt said. We've had recent incidents across the country where you've had executions ... referred to as being botched.

    The Board of Correction decided to change the rule partly in response to the problems elsewhere, he said.

    Part of it, on our end, is an insistence on learning what we can from other people on what we can do to ensure the integrity of the process, he said.

    But Cover noted the rule seems to be in opposition to a judge's ruling last year, which directed the department to reveal the source of the lethal injection drugs used in a recent execution.

    Idahoans, whatever their view on the death penalty, have an interest in knowing how their officials are obtaining those drugs and how they are using taxpayer dollars, she said. "It seems now the Board of Correction is seeking not to increase its transparency but to limit it further."

    https://www.sheltonherald.com/news/a...y-15014813.php
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  7. #27
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    US judge rejects inmates’ lawsuit on Idaho execution plans

    BY REBECCA BOONE
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit from two death row inmates seeking more information about Idaho's execution plans.

    U.S. District Judge David Nye ruled Tuesday that because Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr. and Thomas Eugene Creech both have appeals pending in their criminal cases, there's no guarantee they'll ever face execution, meaning they don't yet have standing to sue over the details of the state's execution plans.

    “The ultimate question of whether the two men will even be executed remains an undetermined and open question, rendering the claims in this case speculative and abstract,” Nye wrote.

    Still, both men can sue again if they lose their criminal cases and are issued death warrants.

    The men, both represented by the Federal Defender Services of Idaho, sued the state in March over what they said was a lack of information about how prison officials planned to execute them. They said the lack of information violated their rights in several ways, in part because withholding the information prevents them from seeking legal remedies if the methods are likely to lead to botched lethal injection attempts.

    The men noted that in the two most recent executions, state officials didn't publish updated versions of their plans until just weeks before they were scheduled to occur.

    “We are disappointed in the Court's ruling and are evaluating our options,” Jonah Horwitz, the attorney representing Pizzuto and Creech, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

    Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray declined to comment on the case.

    State officials have long sought to keep information about lethal injection drugs and their source secret. Prison officials maintain that releasing the source of execution drugs would make them harder for the state to obtain in the future.

    But critics say the information should be released so the public can make its own decisions about whether the state is appropriately carrying out capital punishment. The Idaho Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in a separate lawsuit seeking information about the state's lethal injection drugs brought by University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho.

    https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/...247274844.html
    Judicial Review isn't in the Constitution.

  8. #28
    Senior Member CnCP Addict Bobsicles's Avatar
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    Someone should probably tell Nye that Pizzuto has exhausted appeals. Another judge that doesn’t know what he’s talking about
    I believe in the death penalty

    ~James Dobson

  9. #29
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Idaho Supreme Court: State must reveal execution drug source

    By REBECCA BOONE
    The Associated Press

    Idaho prison officials must turn over information about where they got lethal injection drugs used in recent executions, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, the latest turn in a long-running challenge over transparency in executions that's playing out nationwide.

    The high court's ruling was a win for University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover, who studies how the public interacts with the death penalty. She filed a public records request with the Idaho Department of Correction in 2017 seeking execution-related documents. The department largely denied the request, sending her just 49 pages of documents and a link to information on its website about execution protocols.

    However, Idaho prison officials had more than 2,000 pages of documents related to her request, including receipts and other information that showed where the state obtained lethal injection drugs used in its two most recent executions and how much it paid for them.

    Prison officials have long said they fear they won’t be able to obtain drugs for future executions if their suppliers believe they could be exposed. Major pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell medications to states if they think they will be used for executions, forcing some states to look for more novel sources, including compounding pharmacies and drugs from other countries like India.

    Legal battles in other states have ended with courts ordering prisons to release information on their suppliers, including this year in Nebraska. More than a dozen states have passed laws since 2011 preventing the release of information about the source of their execution drugs, while several other states have invoked existing laws or regulations to keep that information secret.

    In Idaho, Cover, represented by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued for the documents in 2018. Last year, a judge sided with her, saying prison officials had to turn over much of the information, including documents that name the supplier of the drugs used in the 2012 execution of Richard Albert Leavitt.

    That judge said the information could be released because the compounding pharmacy that provided the drugs can no longer supply Idaho because it can’t comply with current regulations. But that ruling said another document, which included the identity of the supplier of drugs used to execute Paul Ezra Rhoades in 2011, could be withheld because that company might provide drugs for future executions.

    Both sides appealed. The American Bar Association and a coalition of news organizations led by the Idaho Press Club sought to file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the state Supreme Court to order release of the information, but the justices declined to allow it.

    In Friday's unanimous opinion, the high court said the administrative rule that Idaho used to justify denying much of the information has no connection to public records law, so it can't be cited as the reason for withholding the documents.

    “We’re reviewing the opinion and have no comment,” Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said in an email.

    The documents will now go back to the lower-court judge for review before they are released. The Supreme Court said the judge could redact any information that would reveal individual members of the state’s execution team, because Cover said she wasn’t seeking that information.

    Idaho has eight inmates on death row. All of them still have appeals pending, and none have been assigned an execution date. Only three people have been executed in the state since Idaho enacted a new death penalty statute in 1977 — Leavitt, Rhoades, and Keith Eugene Wells in 1994. Wells was put to death after he dropped his remaining appeals and demanded to be executed.

    Cover called the high court decision a “victory for transparency.”

    "Every Idahoan should be able to access information on how the death penalty is carried out in their name,” she said in an email.

    https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/...n-15743785.php
    Judicial Review isn't in the Constitution.

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