Joe Heaton, a US district judge for the western district of Oklahoma, on Friday threw out the lawsuit that had been backed by the Guardian, the Oklahoma Observer and journalist Katie Fretland. The judge found that the plaintiffs had failed to make the case that the press had a first amendment constitutional right to witness the complete execution process.
Heaton indicated that he was sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ argument, which he called “compelling”, that “a more open and expansive policy of access and disclosure may be desirable”. But he said reform in this area was not a matter for the courts but for decision-makers; that is, the elected members of the Oklahoma legislature.
The ruling means that when Oklahoma comes to make its next judicial killing, on 15 January, it will be able to do so with new restrictions on press access in place. The number of media witnesses will be reduced from 12 to five, the intravenous lines will be inserted into the prisoner before the press is allowed to witness the events, the audio feed will be turned off after the prisoner makes his final statement, and the prison authorities will be able to shut off all observation of the proceedings should the inmate fail to be unconscious within five minutes of the lethal chemicals being injected into him.
Source: The Guardian, Ed Pilkington, December 19, 2014
Report an error, an omission: email@example.com