LAS VEGAS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada Foundation on Friday filed a federal lawsuit to fight for full transparency with regard to the state’s plan for its first execution in 15 years.
Under the First Amendment, the public is entitled to have independent witnesses view state executions in their entirety. Most often this responsibility has fallen on the news press, which tells the public what happened at the execution, especially if the state messes up. As the state of Nevada continues to fight to perform its first execution in 15 years -- using experimental drug cocktails and an untested facility -- this responsibility takes on even greater weight.
Our plaintiff, the Nevada Press Association, represents news organizations throughout the state, many of whom will be called upon to witness an execution if it moves forward. The case is Nevada Press Association v. Sisolak.
Richard Karpel, Executive Director of the Nevada Press Association, said:
“The press has always played an important role in keeping the public informed about the government. This responsibility is particularly crucial when it comes to executions. Unfortunately, the state's plan for Zane Floyd's execution is designed to limit what reporters can see and to prevent them from reporting if something goes wrong. The people of Nevada have a right to know if the state performs its executions humanely, and the press has a First Amendment right and responsibility to report it.”
Christopher Peterson, Esq., ACLU of Nevada Senior Staff Attorney, said:
“The state must not be allowed to move forward with an execution plan that allows them to hide the consequences of using experimental drug combinations to kill someone. Reporters have a critical mission of acting as government watchdogs and keeping the people of Nevada informed, and the First Amendment guarantees their right to serve as independent witnesses. We’re fighting to make sure Nevada can’t close the curtain on such an event.”
Athar Haseebullah, Esq., ACLU of Nevada Executive Director, said:
“The limited details surrounding the state’s proposed execution of Zane Floyd, who was born with brain damage and suffered PTSD after serving in the Marines, further highlights why the death penalty remains an antiquated tool that should be rendered obsolete. Tax-payer funds are being used to defend this ridiculous protocol. Nevada is better than this.”