Tennessee Supreme Court delays execution (update on drug secrecy issue)

The Tennessee Supreme Court today reset the execution date for Billy Ray Irick to Oct. 7, 2014, noting the issues raised in a case in Davidson County Chancery Court over the state’s new one-drug lethal injection protocol.

Irick had been scheduled for execution on Jan. 15, 2014.

In the case before Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman, attorneys for the death row inmates argue the constitutionality of the state’s new protocol, which uses pentobarbital, common in animal euthanasia.

Among other challenges to the protocol and use of pentobarbital, the attorneys also challenge the secrecy of a new state exemption to the Open Records Act passed last legislative session to shield the name of the drug supplier.

The effort to conceal the name of the drug source has met legal challenges elsewhere — in Arizona, Georgia and Missouri.

Read more about Tennessee’s new confidentiality law and the legal challenges in other states in our earlier blog post.

-Deborah Fisher
Executive Director, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government

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