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Federal appeals court overturns ruling requiring disclosure of lethal injection drugs

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday overturned a ruling from US District Court for the Southern District of Texas that had required the Texas Department of Criminal Justice [official websites] to provide information about the supplier of lethal injection drugs. Lower court Judge Vanessa Gilmore had issued a temporary injunction [WP report] halting the execution of a convicted serial killer Wednesday, only for her decision to be overturned by the appellate court a few hours later. Texas officials have contended that the names of drug supplier must be kept secret in order to protect the suppliers from threats. The Texas department of corrections was forced to purchase pentobarbital [NYT report] from an unnamed compounding pharmacy after the state's supply expired at the end of March. The Houston company that had produced previous batches of the lethal injection drug refused to resupply the state after receiving threats.

The shortage of commonly used lethal injection [JURIST news archive] drugs in the US has forced a number of states to modify their execution drug protocols. In March the Oklahoma County District Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the state's law preventing death row inmates from obtaining information about the drugs used in lethal injections violates the Oklahoma constitution. Also in March the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the executions of two inmates scheduled for March 20 and March 27 must be delayed for at least a month so that the state may have additional time to either procure the appropriate execution drugs or to alter the state's execution protocol. In February Judge Terence Kern of the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma [official website] issued [JURIST report] a temporary restraining order on The Apothecary Shoppe in Tulsa to stop the pharmacy from providing an execution drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for an upcoming lethal injection.

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