Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce ruled today in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that the state must disclose labels on drugs it obtained to carry out executions.
Steve Shults, a Little Rock lawyer, was the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The state has resisted disclosing the information because labels have been used in the past to identify manufacturers of the drugs. Manufacturers generally don’t want their legal drugs used in executions and one lawsuit was filed seeking returns of drugs the state had obtained under the argument that the state had been dishonest to obtain the drugs.
State law protects the identity of drug suppliers, but doesn’t specifically exempt the labels, the judge ruled. No word yet if the state will appeal, but it seems likely. The state already is appealing a decision Shults won in a separate, similar case seeking label information on a supply of potassium chloride. The suit today pertains to midazolam, another of the three drugs used in executions.
UPDATE: As predicted a statement from Leslie Rutledge’s office
“The Attorney General respectfully disagrees with the circuit court’s decision and believes it should have stayed this case pending the outcome of similar litigation on appeal at the Arkansas Supreme Court. Attorney General Rutledge intends to seek an emergency stay of the decision from the State Supreme Court, which was granted previously in the similar matter.”
Pierce ordered the material turned over by Sept. 28.