Judge Orders Mediation in Media Execution Suit


U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ordered mediation today between a group of news organizations and the State of Idaho, after the media outlets sued to gain greater access to execution procedures.

The news agencies, 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 IV's inserted into his arm. Most states bar witnesses from watching those events. Only Ohio and Georgia allow witnesses to watch the entire process.

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

The Associated Press reports that Lodge handed down an order today, ordering the parties to enter mediation on or before Friday, June 1, under the supervision of Magistrate Judge Candy Dale.