Rehearing Ordered On Execution Access p. 30

By: M.L. Stein A FEDERAL APPELLATE court has given the media a flicker of hope in their legal fight to fully witness executions by lethal injection in California.
Although the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the media's rejected the media's contention that restricting parts of the execution process violeted their First Amendment rights, it sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether prison restrictions are an ""exaggerated response,"" to security concerns.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Waughn R. Walker in San Francisco ruled in favor of full access on a petition by the California First Amendment Coalition and Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. But the appeals court overruled Walker.
The media want to view the condemned from the time they're strapped onto a gurney with tubes inserted into their veins. The state Department of Corrections allows media observation beginning when inmates enter the chamber.
The state fears fuller access could lead to identification of executioners-a concern the media dismiss because it's never happened. The media groups contend the public has a right to know, since capital punishment is a major issue for all sides.
"The public's right to observe criminal proceedings should extend to the ultimate and extreme stage of execution for many of the same reasons: ensuring propriety and promoting public confidence in the administration of criminal justice,"" said Terry Francke, executive director of the First Amendment coalition. He said the lethal injection process is more restrictive than gas chamber executions because it apparatus is connected,""leaving little to see except an already inert figure...with o basis for determining the final demeanor of the condemned.""
But the 9th Circuit said, ""Whaever First Amendment right might exist to view executions, the 'right' is severely limited.""
Deputy state attorney general Karl S. Mayer argued against any First Amendment right: ""Anyone can walk in from the streets and sit down in a courtroom. No one can walk into a prison. A prison is not a public place.
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