Update 4/3/14: Yesterday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice must disclose the source of its new drug supply to attorneys for two inmates facing imminent execution. The case now heads to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.
Earlier today, a federal judge temporarily halted the executions of Tommy Lynn Sells and Ramiro Hernandez Llanas – scheduled for April 3 and April 9, respectively – “declaring that the state’s prison system must disclose to defense attorneys more information about the supplier of a new batch of lethal-injection drugs.” (“Judge halts Texas executions over drug secrecy,” Associated Press, April 2, 2014)
According to the AP, “[U.S. District Judge Vanessa] Gilmore ordered the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide defense attorneys with information about the supplier and how the drug was tested.” Officials with TDCJ have refused to identify the source of the newly obtained supply of pentobarbital, the sole drug now used in Texas’ lethal injection protocol.
The state reportedly plans to appeal Judge Gilmore’s ruling.
Here’s a statement from attorneys Maurie Levin and Jonathan Ross, attorneys for the Plaintiffs (Tommy Lynn Sells and Ramiro Hernandez Llanas):
“The District Court’s Order honors and reflects the crucial importance of transparency in the execution process. We hope that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will finally decide to comply with the law, and cease attempting to shroud in secrecy one aspect of their job that, above all others, should be conducted in the light of day. It is TDCJ’s attempt to manipulate the system and evade accountability and the rule of law that compelled this last minute litigation, and the need for a stay of execution to permit Plaintiffs and the courts to review the constitutionality of the means and methods by which Texas intends to carry out their execution.”
— Maurie Levin and Jonathan Ross, attorneys for the Plaintiffs | April 2, 2014