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Indiana Supreme Court to decide if state must identify suppliers of death penalty drugs

Tim Evans
Indianapolis Star
July 8, 2020

The Indianapolis Star reported on a pending ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court on whether the state must reveal who supplies the drugs Indiana plans to use to administer the death penalty—a case which began with a public records request filed by LBKM's Kate Toomey.

The case now before the Supreme Court started in 2014 when A. Katherine "Kate" Toomey, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents groups opposing the death penalty, asked the IDOC to identify the manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of drugs for its execution protocol. 

Toomey's request came just days after a news report in which an IDOC spokesman identified a new combination the state planned to use in the wake of a shortage of thiopental sodium, which had been the sedative component. The spokesman said it would be replaced by Brevital, a barbiturate anesthetic, in a mix that also included pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

The IDOC denied Toomey's request, citing a statute that says "the identities of persons who assist the warden of the state prison in an execution” are confidential and excluded from the Access to Public Records Act.

Over the next three years, the legal wrangling wound through the Indiana Public Access Counselor, Marion Circuit Court and Indiana Court of Appeals before landing at the Indiana Supreme Court. Toomey prevailed at every stop and, while IDOC did provide some information, her request for manufacturer and supplier names was not fulfilled.

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