Arizona Roundup - Mesa Legend - Arizona faces lawsuit about LI drugs | Arizona Republic Column on Arias Trial

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Steve Hall

Nov 11, 2014, 1:41:59 PM11/11/14

This e-mail contains a news article from:

      Mesa Legend - Arizona faces lawsuit about death penalty drugs

Columns from the Arizona Republic:

      Montini: Free Jodi Arias? Yes. (And no.)

      Roberts: Prosecutor should cut his losses and ours on Arias

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11/10/2014 | The Mesa Legend


Arizona faces lawsuit about death penalty drugs

by Joshua Bowling |Mesa Legend


The Associated Press and other media organizations have brought lawsuits against Arizona challenging the state’s secrecy regarding death penalty drugs.


The Arizona Republic, KPNX-TV Channel 12 (Arizona’s NBC affiliate), KPHO (Arizona’s CBS affiliate), Guardian News & Media LLC, and the Associated Press submitted the lawsuit on Oct. 23.


Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Charles L. Ryan, and Attorney General Thomas Horne are the defendants in the suit.


Gathering information on lethal injections is the nominal purpose of the lawsuit, the court filing read. The filing accuses the state government of infringing upon the public’s First Amendment rights by keeping the makeup of the drug and the administration process hidden.


The media outlets are seeking access to the manufacturing and administrative processes of the lethal injection drugs so as to give the information to the public.


Hanging was the primary means of execution in Arizona up until 1934, when the state adopted the gas chamber as the state-sanctioned death penalty.


In November 1992, the state moved to lethal injection via a constitutional amendment.


MCC professor of political science, Brian Dille, said that people do not necessarily need to know the inner workings of the death penalty, even if they are in favor of it.


The claim’s basis is that the people have a right to know what is in the drugs, a contested matter, according to Dille.


“Because we’re a democracy,” he said, “the people have the right to decide whether we engage in the death penalty. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to know everything.”


The state could claim an interest in hiding the details, Dille said, because there have been redresses against the companies providing the drugs in the past.


“Some people genuinely believe any form of death administered by the state – by definition – is cruel and unusual,” Dille said.


The lawsuit is “To determine whether lethal injection executions are fairly and humanely administered, or whether they can ever be,” according to the court filing.


The state has withheld information regarding the makeup, source, and quality of the death penalty drugs, information which has – historically – been open to the public, the filing read.


If the state keeps the company who provides the drugs hidden from the public, the public will not have a chance to take business away from the company.


Until 2010, Arizona used a three-drug protocol, made up of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The only FDA-approved manufacturer of sodium thiopental during this time was Hospira, a pharmaceutical company out of Illinois.


According to the court filing, Hospira ceased production of sodium thiopental in 2011, causing a shortage of the drug.


The Arizona Department of Corrections then changed the makeup of the drug at least three times, never disclosing the source, composition, or quality of the drug, the filing read.


According to the filing, the public has a right to know, given their freedoms in the First and 14th amendments.


This information should be made public, according to the filing, because state law mandates that at least 12 “reputable citizens” must be invited to view the executions, thereby making it a public affair.


The answer, Dille said, lies in the death penalty, not the means by which it is carried out.


“If the people of Arizona decided not to have the death penalty – and there are some very good arguments for not having the death penalty – then they need to not have the death penalty,” Dille said.


This lawsuit is missing the point, according to Dille. “Making life miserable for bureaucrats does not change the politics of the death penalty,” he said. “The better strategy would be to persuade the public to stop supporting it.”


Nursing major Ashley Kingsley believed the lawsuit had great merit.


“Any time you hide something from citizens – of our country, in particular – it’s wrong,” she said. “We were founded on freedom, and secrecy goes against that.”


The court document was filed by David J. Bodney, who leads the Media Law Group for Ballard Spahr, LLP. Ballard Spahr has over 500 attorneys across 14 offices.


Bodney has been with the firm for more than 30 years. One of his most famous cases occurred in 1999, when he and The Arizona Republic won the Arizona Newspapers Association’s Freedom of Information Award for his work in federal court representing Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., which is now owned by Gannett Corp.


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Video at:

November 11, 2014 - 9:45 a.m. MST | Arizona Republic Column


Free Jodi Arias? Yes. (And no.)

by EJ Montini | columnist |


So, is it time to set Jodi Arias free?


Yes. And no.


It is time to end the sentencing trial that would determine if she receives life in prison or the death penalty. It is time to send her to prison and forget about her, for the rest of her life.


But should charges against her be dropped in order for her to receive a new trial?




As Michael Kiefer from the Arizona Republic reported, Arias' attorneys filed a motion Monday to dismiss all charges against Arias, alleging prosecutorial misconduct. As an alternative, they suggested simply dropping the sentencing trial.


I'd go with that.


Although it might not be completely unreasonable if the judge went along with the defense's blockbuster request and granted a new trial. Attorneys for Arias say that their computer-forensics expert found out that thousands of files, mostly of pornography, were deleted from victim Travis Alexander's computer while the computer was in custody of Mesa police.


Not cool.


Defense attorneys would have used that information at Arias' trial. It's an awful thing in criminal trials that defense attorneys get to smear victims. But the fact is, they do. Sympathy plays a big part in murder trials, whether we want to admit it or not. A trial is not just about the evidence, as we pretend it out to be.


Jurors don't simply want to find a killer guilty; they want to feel sympathy, empathy for the victim.


But what if the victim isn't such a an honorable character? What if the victim shares many of the same unattractive traits as the murderer? Would jurors be less likely to find the killer in such a case guilty of murder in the first degree?


It's hard to say.


The evidence that Alexander had porn on his computer doesn't change the fact that Arias killed him. But it might alter the way a jury looks at him, and that could alter a verdict. It's troubling that his attorney's didn't have access to the information. And even more troubling if the porn was purposefully scrubbed from his computer to deny them access.


With all the publicity surrounding the case I can't imagine Judge Sherry Stephens dismissing all charges and having this entire tawdry mess start all over. AGAIN.


However, I wouldn't be surprised if she nixed the prosecution's intent to seek the death penalty against Arias. That would end the sentencing trial. It wouldn't free Arias, who would be shipped off to prison.


But it would free us.


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November 11, 2014 - 10:24 a.m. MST | Arizona Republic Columnist


Prosecutor should cut his losses and ours on Arias

by Laurie Roberts | columnist |


After six years, Jodi Arias' crack defense team has now determined that the Mesa police Department killed out all the kiddie porn on Travis Alexander's computer.


Where earlier defense experts found no tampering with Alexander's computer, suddenly the new team of defense experts has miraculously figured out that a Mesa police detective deleted thousands of files from pornography sites from the computer in 2009.


Is it desperation, calculation or the truth?


That'll be up to Judge Sherry Stephens to determine. I look for another closed hearing on the matter, any day now.


Assuming the most recent set of Arias defense experts can be believed (and that is an assumption), two questions arise:


1.If the first team of defense experts didn't find evidence of tampering – and were thus incompetent – can we, the taxpayers who are picking up the tab for this ongoing never ending circus, get a refund?


2.If the second team of defense experts really do have evidence that Alexander was a pervert and police covered it up, can we please end the madness now? Nobody likes a pervert and no jury is going to feel sorry enough for his demise to sentence Arias to death anyway.


Such a finding would amount to prosecutorial misconduct and should rate Arias an end to this multi-million-dollar crusade to put her to death.


It may even rate her a new trial. If not now, then later on during the inevitable appeals.


And the cash register just keeps on ringing.


Prosecutors should cut their losses – and ours. End this death wish and let Stephens put Arias away.


The rest of her life without a mirror or a microphone? To someone like Arias, I imagine that'll be a living death.


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Steve Hall

The StandDown Texas Project

PO Box 13475

Austin, TX  78711


512.879.1675  (o

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Skype: shall78711




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