Do Texans have the right to know the name of the pharmacy which supplies the Texas Department of Criminal Justice with the deadly drug Pentobarbital which is used in executions? News Radio 1200 WOAI reports the State Supreme Court will hear arguments on that issue today.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Texas death penalty lies in getting an adequate supply of pentobarbital, which is one of the few drugs which is approved by the courts to carry out lethal injection executions. The big multi national pharmaceutical companies refuse to supply Pentobarbital to the state, because they are either headquartered in or have extensive interests in the European Union, and the E.U. forbids firms in its member nations from participating in executions.
So the state has more and more relied on small, private 'compounding pharmacies' to supply the lethal drugs to TDCJ, but many won't so it if their identities are made public. Death Penalty opponents have begun harassing and staging anti capital punishment protests at these pharmacies, which Gov. Greg Abbott, in an opinion made when he was Attorney General, said places them at risk of 'real harm,' and justifies the withholding of their identity.
But criminal defense lawyers argue that without a trail they can follow, they can't confirm that the drugs will not cause excruciating pain and violate the 'cruel and unusual punishment' clause of the Constitution.
Earlier this decade, several states reported 'bungled' executions using lethal drugs which led to questions about the drugs.Lower courts have ruled that the identity of the pharmacy supplying the death drugs is 'in the public interest' and must be revealed.