Sioux Falls, SD - In a case that may determine the manufacturer and supplier of lethal injection drugs used in South Dakota executions, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota yesterday, for a second time, asked the court to unseal records relating to drugs used in the execution of Donald E. Moeller.
In the ACLU's original motion to unseal court records, the court sided with the ACLU and gave Defendants a deadline to redact any identifying information subject to the state's protective orders shielding the identity of individuals involved in carrying out executions. Five days prior to the court's mandated deadline, Defendants filed a motion with the court arguing that even redacted, the documents contain numerous, unspecified hints and cluessome known only to Defendants, others as yet known to anyonethat could be pieced together to reveal the identities of those individuals.
"The Defendant's speculative and conclusory assertions are entirely inadequate to overcome the public's First Amendment and common law rights of access to the sealed materials," said Robert Doody, Executive Director for the ACLU of South Dakota, in court pleadings."
"The very issue of what drugs are used to carry out executions, including the identities of the manufacturers and suppliers has been a topic of debate in South Dakota," said Doody. "South Dakotans deserve to know what drugs are being used to carry out the death penalty."
At the heels of the ACLU's application to unseal court records is Senate Bill 36, a bill brought by the Office of the Attorney General which if signed into law by the Governor would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to disclose information about an "entity supplying or administering the intravenous injection substance or substances". The bill amends the existing law which currently only prohibits disclosure of identifying information relating to the identity of individuals responsible for carrying out executions.
Relevant court pleadings attached hereto.
The South Dakota Chapter of the ACLU is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.
In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of South Dakota.