Judge weighs challenge to Mo. executioner secrecy law

Feb. 6, 2014 at 6:18 PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A federal judge is weighing a challenge to a Missouri law that exempts executioners from the state's Open Public Records law.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the law violates the First Amendment, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday. The group says it could be sued if it posted the names of those involved in the execution process on its website.

To complicate the issue, the state says compounding pharmacies that supply the drugs for lethal injections are part of the execution team. A federal appeals court rejected an appeal by Herbert Smulls, who was put to death Jan. 29, seeking information on the drugs to be used.

U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips turned down one of Smulls' final appeals but she said at the time she was disturbed Smulls had no legal way of getting information on the chemicals to be used to put him to death.

Phillips has given no information on how soon she might rule on the secrecy law.

Smulls was executed for killing a jewelry store owner in a 1991 robbery.

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