Judge tells Alabama to release lethal injection information

Alabama officials were ordered Wednesday to release information about the state’s lethal injection procedure as a federal judge granted news organizations’ request to unseal records in the wake of an aborted execution.

U.S. Judge Karon O. Bowdre ruled that the public has a “common law right of access to the sealed records relating to Alabama’s lethal injection protocol.” However, Bowdre said the state can keep some information secret in the interest of security, such as the names of low-level prison employees involved in executions.

The judge ordered the state to tell her by June 7 if there is identifying information in any of the records that the court plans to make public.

Alabama for years has released scant details about its execution process or where it obtains the drugs used.

A spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the office is reviewing the order.

The Associated Press, The Montgomery Advertiser and the Alabama Media Group had filed a motion seeking the release of the protocol.

The motion was filed in federal court in a lawsuit brought by death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm. Alabama halted Hamm’s execution in February when the execution team could not connect an intravenous line to Hamm, who had damaged veins because of lymphoma, hepatitis and past drug use.

“It may also help the public to understand how the same scenario might be repeated or avoided under the protocol as it currently stands,” Bowdre wrote of the release of the information.