The public has a right to know the source of Missouri's lethal injection drugs, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by the Associated Press, the Guardian, and three other news organizations in the state. Missouri is one of several states implementing new secrecy policies concerning the source of its drugs, after successful boycott campaigns have made it harder and harder for death penalty states to procure lethal injection cocktails. The lawsuit argues that these policies violate right to public access, as protected in the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment, along with the state's own public records laws. The state has executed six individuals since cloaking the identity of the state's drug providers last October.
The petition filed to the Cole County circuit court in the state specifically references what is now the most high-profile execution case involving drug source secrecy: the botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett, which subsequently resulted in a stay of executions there while an investigation into Department of Corrections proceedings is pending. "The public cannot meaningfully debate the propriety of lethal injection executions," the document reads, "if it is denied access to this essential information about how individuals are being put to death by the State... this was true before the recent execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett using a secret drug formulation obtained from secret sources."