November 11, 2013

ST. LOUIS — Concerned that the state is hiding information, publisher Larry Flynt is trying to uncover its plans to execute Joseph Franklin on Nov. 20. Flynt, who was paralyzed in 1978 by Joseph Franklin, has advocated that Franklin should be punished by spending the remainder of his life in prison, rather than be killed by the state and put out of his misery.

On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation filed a motion in federal court, on Flynt’s behalf, to unseal documents that have been withheld from the public. The public should be allowed to review information regarding how the state determined its death penalty processes.

For example, the Court relied on a deposition of M3 – the executioner who is supposedly a board-certified anesthesiologist—to make factual findings about how executions will be carried out. “The state claims that its executions satisfy Eighth Amendment standards because their execution team includes a board-certified anesthesiologist,” says Tony Rothert, the ACLU-MO’s legal director. “However, the American Board of Anesthesiology forbids its members from participating in capital punishment. If M3 is certified, it is only because the state is abetting him in hiding his identify from the board. The public should be skeptical of his testimony, but because his testimony is sealed, we do not even know what he said.”

“There has been far too much secrecy clouding the state’s execution plans already, which makes it difficult to trust that the state is acting on our behalf in an ethical manner,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, the ACLU-MO’s executive director.

“I find it totally absurd that a government that forbids killing is allowed to use that same crime as punishment,” said Larry Flynt. “But, until the death penalty is abolished, the public has a right to know the details about how the state plans to execute people on its behalf.”

Court documents can be found on the legal dockets page for this case, Ringo v. Lombardi.