Federal Appeals Court Rules Media Should Have Full Execution Viewing Access


Following a suit filed by Idaho media organizations looking to obtain greater access to execution procedures, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, June 8, in favor of the Associated Press, the Idaho Press Club and 15 other news organizations, including Boise Weekly.

Originally, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge halted the suit by ruling that the timing of the request for greater access was poor, since Idaho has already scheduled Tuesday, June 12, for the execution of Richard Leavitt, accused of slaying a Blackfoot woman in 1984.

During the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades in November 2011, four reporters were chosen to serve as media witnesses. However, those members of the press were barred from watching as Rhoades entered the execution chamber, or as he was prepped with IVs inserted into his arm.

Instead, those witnesses could only watch the administration of the drugs that killed Rhoades. Now the decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said Idaho's current media protocol for executions is restrictive.

The news organizations argued that without witnessing the entire process, they could not accurately report to the public. The federal court was inclined to agree, issuing a decision on the matter after arguments wrapped up on Friday.

However, it remains unclear how the court's decision will affect the Leavitt execution on Tuesday.