Dec 12, 3:50 PM EST

Judge: Texas should reveal execution drug supplier


US Video

Interactives
Inside the Texas Death Chamber
Supreme Court Oral Arguments: Is Lethal Injection Unconstitutional?
Iconic Texas Executions
Views on the Death Penalty: A Global Perspective

Death Penalty by State
Documents
Letter requesting a stay of execution for Claude Jones
Then-Gov. George W. Bush's reply to Jone's reprieve request
Ohio struggles to get advice on lethal injection
Nebraska Supreme Court's Ruling on the Electric Chair (02/08/08)
Latest News
4 Ohio inmates challenge lethal injection drug law

Rights group urges UN to stop Nigerian executions

Oklahoma death row inmates appeal injection ruling

States' use of execution drugs varies widely

Judge OKs Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Interactives
Right at Home: Contemporary Furniture
Right at Home: New craftsmanship
Right at Home: Mother's Day gift ideas
Right at Home: Home office
Right at Home: Mirrors
Right at Home: Cool kitchen tools
Right at Home: Casual dining
Right at Home: Kids decor
Right at Home: Cozy, comfort decor
Right at Home: Art deco in the home
Right at Home: Machine shop chic
Right at Home: Rugs
Right at Home: Wallpaper
Right at Home: Recycled products
Right at Home: Metallic finishes
Right at Home: Yellow decor
Right At Home: Side tables
Right at Home: Technology
Right at Home: Cutouts
Right at Home: Outdoor entertaining
Right at Home: Recycled wood
Right at Home: Outdoor furniture
Right at Home: Stone decor
Multimedia
BCS title: Alabama vs. Texas
Coaching legend Bobby Bowden retires
Female college referee loves her job
Multimedia
When Drugs Stop Working
Lone Protestor Rallies Ohio City Against Drugs
From Drug Addict to Counselor
Documents
CDC Report on Sexual Behavior and Drug Use
Latest News
FDA approves new melanoma drug from Bristol-Myers

Express Scripts turns to AbbVie in huge hepatitis C deal

FDA approves AbbVie combo hepatitis C treatment

Judge halts Alzheimer's drug swap until July

Multimedia
Drug war interactive

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A judge has ordered Texas to release the name of the compounding pharmacy that provides the state its execution drug, but attorneys pushing for the disclosure said Friday that they don't expect to get the information anytime soon.

District Judge Darlene Byrne ruled Thursday that the company's name is a matter of public record, despite arguments from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that disclosing it would be a safety risk. Texas had released the name of its drug suppliers for years, but in May, Attorney General Greg Abbott changed course and cited undisclosed threats made to a new company supplying the drug.

Similar fights are ongoing in other death penalty states like Oklahoma, Missouri and Ohio. But courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have yet to halt an execution based on a state's refusal to reveal its drug supplier.

In Texas, Byrne sided with attorneys who filed a lawsuit earlier this year pushing for disclosure of the names of the company that supplies the execution drug and of the compounding pharmacy that prepares the drug when it's used for executions.

Two of the suing attorneys, all of whom regularly work with death-row inmates, said the ruling is a victory even though they don't expect the state to release the names pending its appeal.

"This is about the drugs, but it's also about open government," attorney Maurie Levin said. Fellow lawyer Phil Durst said the drugs "are coming from somewhere, and who is the compounder is a vital piece of information."

The Department of Criminal Justice plans to appeal, according to spokesman Jason Clark. He said the state maintains that "disclosing the identity of the pharmacy would result in the harassment of the business and would raise serious safety concerns for the business and its employees."

Clark also noted that state and federal courts have often sided with states on the issue.

The lawsuit originally included two Texas death row inmates, but both have since been executed. Texas has 12 execution scheduled for the first five months of next year, but it was unclear what effect, if any, Thursday's decision would have on them. Durst said the case now moves to an appeals court in Austin but may eventually be heard by the Texas Supreme Court.

Texas uses one drug during its lethal injections, pentobarbital. Abbott - who was elected governor in November - had long said that the benefits of government transparency outweighed the Department of Criminal Justice's desire to keep information secret about its execution-drug supplier.

But during his campaign for governor seven months ago, the Republican changed his mind and said the drug supplier's identity should remain secret.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.