The Texas Supreme Court does not often touch issues relating to the death penalty. Criminal appeals and habeas questions go, instead, to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
But the latest hot-button aspect of the death penalty — the supply of the execution drugs — did make an appearance on the docket.
On Thursday, a district court in Austin ruled that officials had to reveal the identity of its supplier. The Public Information Act suit was pursued on behalf of two prisoners currently scheduled to be executed in early April. Previous suppliers in Texas and other states have been sued or faced public pressure, leading them to stop providing lethal-injection drugs.
The Austin Court denied a stay on Friday. That very brief opinion conveys the court’s impression that the release of information would be limited: “The order compels disclosure of the requested information to a limited group of attorneys, with further limitations on their use or disclosure of the information.”
The Court has set a merits briefing schedule with dates falling in mid- and late April. (The Texas Supreme Court has no power to alter the execution dates, a question which will be handled by courts with criminal jurisdiction.)
Coverage: AP/Dallas Morning News