Multiple Items - AP - Legislative proposal would shield source of Ohio LI drugs, protect experts

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Steve Hall

Nov 11, 2014, 11:46:22 AM11/11/14

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                AP - Legislative proposal would shield source of Ohio LI drugs, protect experts

                Columbus Dispatch - Legislation introduced adding secrecy to executions

                Dix News - Ohio lawmakers looking to keep execution drug sources secret

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November 10, 2014 - 6:40 pm | via Greenfield Daily Reporter


Legislative proposal would shield source of Ohio lethal injection drugs, protect experts

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS | AP Legal Affairs Writer


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The names of companies whose drugs are used for lethal injection in Ohio would be shielded under legislation introduced Monday in a move some lawmakers hope will restart capital punishment in the state.


The legislation would also bar companies from entering into contracts prohibiting states from acquiring drugs for executions, and it would protect the identities of anyone involved in executions in Ohio.


The Republican-backed legislation, sponsored by state Reps. Jim Buchy and Matt Huffman and pushed by prosecutors, would also prevent information about a lethal injection drugmaker or distributor from being disclosed in court.


"We want to protect the professionals who are making and preparing the drugs that are needed to perform executions in the most humanitarian way possible," Buchy said.


The American Civil Liberties Union Ohio chapter criticized the legislation, saying it takes the state in the wrong direction and will breed mistrust in the execution system.


"It's just a recipe for even more problems," said Mike Brickner, the group's senior policy director. "When there are issues with the way government is doing something, secrecy is just never the answer."


Executions have been on hold since January, when inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted during a 26-minute execution that raised questions about the two-drug method used to put him to death that had never been tried. Problems with this combo were further underscored in July when an Arizona inmate took nearly two hours to die.


Ohio's lethal injection policy calls for compounded pentobarbital, a specialty dose of the drug that became no longer available after its manufacturer prohibited its use for executions. The state then had trouble obtaining supplies of the compounded version and instead used a two-drug dose of a sedative and painkiller.


Drugmakers, many with headquarters or operations in Europe where capital punishment is fiercely opposed, have enacted arrangements with distributors to keep drugs out of the hands of state prisons for use in executions.


Another element of the bill would prevent any licensing agency — such as a medical board — from punishing a member for providing expert opinions about lethal injection. That appears to target the announcement earlier this year that the state's long-time injection expert would no longer testify for Ohio and several other states.


Mark Dershwitz, a University of Massachusetts anesthesiologist, said he feared his national licensing board would discipline him if it appeared he was assisting in executions in any way.


A federal judge delayed executions because of questions raised by McGuire's execution. The state's next scheduled execution is Feb. 11, when Ronald Phillips is set to die for the 1993 killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.


Several states have enacted such secrecy laws. Missouri and Texas, which both use compounded pentobarbital, won't say where they are getting supplies of the drugs. Both have executed several inmates over the past year.


"I believe the bill is constitutional, and I believe it's doable," Buchy said.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at


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November 11, 2014 - 08:11 AM | Columbus Dispatch - Daily Briefing blog


Legislation introduced adding secrecy to executions

By Alan Johnson | The Columbus Dispatch


Legislation that Attorney General Mike DeWine and county prosecutors say is needed to move forward with executions in Ohio, but which would add a new level of secrecy to the process, was introduced today in the General Assembly.


State Reps. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, and Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said House Bill 663 "will update current law pertaining to capital punishment by lethal injection through issuing confidentiality for persons and entities involved in the procurement of lethal injection drugs. It also voids agreements that prevent the supplying of any drug or combination of drugs to be used in executing a punishment by lethal injection.


Huffman added, "We are ensuring that lethal injections remain the only mode of capital punishment, and that it is humanely implemented."


The legislation would allow companies, including small "compounding pharmacies," that sell drugs to the state for lethal injection to remain secret from the public and media. It would also ensure anonymity for members of the execution team and for a doctor who might participate in the process.


The Republicans lawmakers said in a statement that the proposal "follows findings issued by the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty." However, the proposal, as written, includes none of dozens of recommendations made by the committee.


DeWine previously told The Dispatch that the prison officials have informed him that they cannot proceed with future executions, including one scheduled Feb. 15, without passage of a law freeing them to obtain a new supply of lethal injection drugs.


Legislative leaders indicated last week they hope to pass the measure prior to the end of the current two-year session on Dec. 31.


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November 11, 2014 | via Wooster Daily Record


Ohio lawmakers looking to keep execution drug sources secret

By MARC KOVAC | Dix Capital Bureau


COLUMBUS -- State lawmakers are preparing to introduce legislation to address legal concerns about Ohio's administration of the death penalty, likely including language to keep secret the names of sources of execution drugs.


Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder and Republican Senate President Keith Faber mentioned the potential law changes during a post-election conference in Columbus Thursday, where they discussed legislation that could be passed by the two chambers before the end of the year.


"We are looking at language in that area," Batchelder said concerning capital punishment. "That may come up before we go home."


Faber added, "We anticipate that we're going to work with the attorney general and the prosecutors on trying to get something done on that."


Batchelder said the legislation has been drafted, and he anticipated its introduction in coming days. He declined to offer specifics about what would be included in the bill, though he said it would address issues that have arisen from court decisions related to the death penalty.


"We have a problem in the sense that some of the federal judges have held that our existing system does not provide due process safeguards for those who have been convicted of homicide," he said.



Executions have been on hold for most of the year, after a federal judge stayed scheduled lethal injections while state prison officials consider changes to the execution process.


In August, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory L. Frost ruled "the state of Ohio and any person acting on its behalf is hereby stayed from implementing an order of execution of any Ohio inmate issued by any court of the state of Ohio until Jan. 15, 2015 or until further order from the court."


Frost issued a comparable stay earlier in the year, following the prolonged death of Dennis McGuire in January and a subsequent decision by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to increase the dosage of two drugs used in lethal injections.


McGuire, who received a capital sentence for the rape and murder of a pregnant Preble County woman, was the first inmate executed using a new two-drug combination. The process took about 25 minutes, and witnesses described him gasping for breath.


State prison officials who reviewed his execution said McGuire was "asleep and not conscious" and "did not experience pain, distress or air hunger" during his lethal injection.


The next scheduled execution, pending additional delays, will be Ronald Phillips Feb. 11. Phillips, who was convicted in the 1993 rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl in Akron, was originally scheduled for execution last year, but Kasich temporarily postponed the lethal injection after the inmate asked to determine whether he could donate organs to ailing family members.


Drug Issue

Under execution protocols adopted last year, state prison officials could purchase lethal injection mixtures from so-called compounding pharmacies -- a change that was made after the manufacturer of such drugs refused to sell them for use in executions.


But Attorney General Mike DeWine said last month state prison officials have had difficulties finding pharmacies willing to provide the state's lethal injection drug because they don't want to be identified publicly.


"This is something that the legislature has to look at," DeWine said last month.


The legislation to be considered by lawmakers in coming weeks could call for the names of companies that sell execution drugs to the state to be kept private.


"I think the general idea is to let the department of corrections acquire those things in private and not to have to disclose publicly where they're getting their drugs from," Faber said. "Who they buy their drugs from I don't think is necessarily relevant to what their mission is."


He added, "As long as Ohio has a capital punishment, we need to make sure it's carried out fully, fairly and in consistency with the law. So that's going to be our question."


Another possibility would be allowing the import of execution drugs from overseas, Batchelder said.

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Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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Steve Hall

The StandDown Texas Project

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