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Supreme Court allows execution without disclosure of drug information

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  1. Freedom of Information
The U.S. Supreme Court prevented an Arizona death row inmate from delaying his execution date in order to receive information…

The U.S. Supreme Court prevented an Arizona death row inmate from delaying his execution date in order to receive information on the drugs to be used in his execution.

The denial overturns a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) that ruled capital prisoner Joseph Wood’s requests for information on the drugs the state planned to use to execute him had sufficient merit to delay his execution, scheduled for Wednesday.

The state of Arizona asked the full Ninth Circuit court to review the panel's decision, but the circuit court refused Monday to hear it in front of its full 11-judge panel. The state then took its appeal to the Supreme Court, which also refused to hear the appeal but did lift the Ninth Circuit stay to allow Wood’s execution to go forward.

The appeals court based its split decision, issued Saturday, on the public’s and prisoner’s right to know details about government practices, including executions.

Wood was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of his estranged girlfriend and her father. In late April, Wood and his lead attorney began requesting information on the two drugs to be used in his execution and the qualifications of the drugs’ administrators. The Arizona Department of Corrections only sent Wood information on the drugs’ expiration dates and that it would follow execution protocol similar to that Ohio used in the controversial January execution of Dennis McGuire.