The Circuit Court of Cole County ruled that the Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) knowingly violated the Sunshine Law by refusing to provide information related to the state’s execution witness selection process.
The ACLU of Missouri sued to obtain copies of requests by the public or the media to witness executions, the MODOC’s responses to those requests, and all records indicating the actual witnesses to executions over the past 12 months. Initially, MODOC released a handful of heavily censored documents. Following the news that potential execution witness candidates are first asked their position on the death penalty, the ACLU sought the requests to determine if MODOC was selecting witnesses in an impartial manner.
“The Missouri Department of Corrections continues to knowingly violate the law in order to prevent the public from seeing how it carries out executions. Every Missourian should be concerned that the Department is taking lives in their name, without transparency or oversight,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri.