Court upholds Georgia's execution-drug secrecy law

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NBC News — A Georgia law that shrouds lethal-injection drugs in secrecy was upheld by the state’s highest court on Monday, though two justices expressed concern the policy could lead to a “macabre” repeat of a botched Oklahoma execution.

Warren Lee Hill, who was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate with a nail-studded sink leg, argued he has a constitutional right to know which compounding pharmacy is preparing the pentobarbital that will be used to kill him.

The appeals court, in a 5-2 decision, shrugged off concern that the drugs could be tainted and cause side effects such as a precipitous drop in blood pressure or febrile seizures.

“Such a side effect obviously would be shockingly undesirable in the practice of medicine, but it is certainly not a worry in an execution,” the judges wrote.

The court concluded that keeping the name of the pharmacy secret would protect the business and its workers from harassment and retaliation — and keep drug supply lines open.

“Georgia’s execution process is likely made more timely and orderly by the execution-participant confidentiality statute,” the court ruled.

One of the dissenting judges, however, blasted the law and said it “has the effect of creating the very secret star chamber-like proceedings in which this State has promised its citizens it would not engage.”

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