Federal Judge Dismisses Arkansas Times Lawsuit on Executions

january 9, 2008  09:18 am
The First Amendment provides no guarantee that witnesses should be able to see every step of an execution in Arkansas, a federal judge ruled as she dismissed a lawsuit by the Arkansas Times and local chapters of the ACLU and the Society for Professional Journalists, the AP reports. The suit sought to allow journalists to witness the prisoner as (s)he is led to the execution chamber, strapped down, and inserted with IVs. In her ruling, the judge wrote that executions have "moved from the public square to inside prison walls," an area where the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled reporters have no special right to access. "Even if constitutionally we don't have a right to be there at every step of that process, public accountability demands that we should be," Times editor Max Brantley says, adding that he and the other parties would confer with lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the ruling.