Lawsuit Filed Over Execution Witnesses

This week a lawsuit was filed by a reporter whose stories have been critical of Missouri’s execution practices. The reporter claims that he was wrongfully excluded from being an execution witness.  Christopher McDaniel, a former reporter for St. Louis public radio, is asking a judge to block anyone other than Missouri’s attorney general from serving as an execution witness until McDaniel’s due-process claims are decided.

McDaniel applied in January 2014 to be an execution witness.  At least “eight reputable citizens” are chosen to be witnesses at executions.  Citizen witnesses are selected by George Lombardi, head of the Department of Corrections.  McDaniel never got a response to his request and 17 executions have been carried out by the state since.

The lawsuit maintains that he was denied access to being a witness because his application claimed he wished to “ensure that executions are carried out in a constitutional manner.”  There are currently no executions scheduled for Missouri.