Leavitt Loses Appeal, Media Loses Suit As Execution Day Gets Closer

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U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has halted, at least for now, a suit filed by Idaho media to gain greater access to execution procedures.

Seventeen news groups, including the Associated Press and the Idaho Press Club, filed suit on May 22, in preparation for Idaho's next scheduled execution on Tuesday, June 12, when Richard Leavitt is slated to die for the July 1984 murder of 31-year-old Danette Elg in her Blackfoot home.

In November 2011, when four reporters were chosen to serve as media witnesses for the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades, the reporters were not allowed to watch as Rhoades was escorted into the execution chamber, strapped to a table, and had IVs inserted into his arm. Most states bar witnesses from watching those events. Only Ohio and Georgia allow witnesses to watch the entire process.

The lawsuit by Idaho news organizations argued that reporters must accurately report the events, and any possible complications, to the public and, therefore, must have access to the whole process.

But the Associated Press reports that Lodge "took issue with the timing of the injunction request ... saying there was no excuse for the news organizations waiting so soon" before Leavitt's scheduled execution.

The news organizations are expected to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the Idaho Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Leavitt's appeal to the death warrant ordering his execution.

The high court handed down a 10-page decision that the 7th District Court "did not err" in issuing the death warrant.

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