ACLU, NV Press Association sue to assure NDOC transparency at execution

By: - July 26, 2021 4:43 pm
death chamber

Nevada’s execution chamber. (Nevada Department of Corrections photo)

The ACLU of Nevada filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Nevada Press Association against the state to assure Zane Floyd’s pending execution is conducted in a transparent manner.

The complaint, Nevada Press Association v. Sisolak, scrutinizes limitations on witnesses, specifically members of the press, observing the execution, saying that the state’s  “procedures violate the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights when it gives the Nevada Department of Corrections unfettered authority to deny requests from media representatives for an invitation to Floyd’s execution.” 

The lawsuit also questions the state’s execution manual and what witness will be able to hear and see.

“Unfortunately, the state’s plan for Zane Floyd’s execution is designed to limit what reporters can see and to prevent them from reporting if something goes wrong,” said Richard Karpel, the executive director of the Nevada Press Association. “The people of Nevada have a right to know if the state performs its executions humanely, and the press has a First Amendment right and responsibility to report it.”

Legal and civil right groups, including the ACLU, have already condemned the Nevada Department of Corrections’ plan to use a never-before-tried combination of drugs for the lethal injection

On Monday, the ACLU of Nevada released a statement saying Nevada shouldn’t be allowed to move forward with a plan that allows “them to hide the consequences of using experimental drug combinations to kill someone.”

“The limited details surrounding the state’s proposed execution of Zane Floyd, who was born with brain damage and suffered PTSD after serving in the Marines, further highlights why the death penalty remains an antiquated tool that should be rendered obsolete,” said Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “Tax-payer funds are being used to defend this ridiculous protocol. Nevada is better than this.”

Floyd, who was convicted for killing four people at a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999 and sentenced to death in 2000, was scheduled to be executed in July, but a federal judge stayed his execution at the end of June. 

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson started pushing for Floyd’s execution earlier in the spring around the same time lawmakers were discussing Assembly Bill 395, which would have abolished the death penalty. 

Wolfson said the timeframe was coincidental. 

If the execution goes forward, Floyd would be the first execution in Nevada in 15 years.

In May, Texas carried out an execution without media witnesses, and Texas officials later said they were not sure how that “error” was made.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.