A federal appeals court ruled last week that Missouri must disclose the identities of the suppliers who provide it with the drugs used in its single-drug lethal injection protocol. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by two Mississippi death row inmates who are challenging the constitutionality of the three-drug cocktail that would be used in their executions.
Richard Jordan and Ricky Chase argued that when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Glossip v. Gross last year that defendants who were objecting to their method of execution must come up with an alternative method, they had the right to investigate pentobarbital, which Missouri uses in its single-drug protocol. When Missouri refused to provide information, Jordan’s and Chase’s attorneys appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which ruled that disclosing the information did not impose an “undue burden” on the state.
Several death row inmates have filed lawsuits seeking information on the type and manufacturer of the lethal drugs used in executions. The issue has taken on greater significance in light of the fact that in May, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer said it would not sell its lethal drugs for use in executions, becoming the last FDA-approved manufacturer of execution drugs to prohibit their use for lethal injections.