US appeals court denies challenge to execution delay, case could head to powerful court
PHOENIX (AP) — A case challenging Arizona's refusal to reveal detailed information about the lethal combination it will use to put an inmate to death is now headed to a powerful court.
A U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday denied Arizona's request for a re-hearing after a three-member panel of judges put on hold the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood until the state reveals information such as the makers of the drugs and how the state developed its method for legal injections.
The legal dispute comes at a time when concerns over the death penalty are mounting after a botched April 29 execution of an Oklahoma inmate and an incident in January in which an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die.
Wood's attorneys argue that he has a constitutional right to detailed information and that such information has been historically available and beneficial to the public.
Attorneys for the state argue that Wood does not have a right to the details.
Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, says the state will file an application with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to dismiss the stay on the execution. The Supreme Court is a powerful nine-member court that has the power to void laws passed by Congress if it deems them contrary to the constitution.
The three-judge panel on Saturday overturned a lower court's decision that favored the state, and found Wood is not entitled to the information, in turn postponing the execution.
Judge Jay Bybee, a member of the panel, dissented.
Arizona attorneys then sought a re-hearing with a larger panel, arguing that the smaller panel's decision conflicts with other Supreme Court rulings that found that constitutional free-speech guarantees do not mandate a right of access to government information or sources of information.
The appeals court did not provide a detailed explanation as to why it was denying the re-hearing.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski dissented.
Dale Baich, an attorney for Wood, said his team looked forward to receiving the requested information.