The American Civil Liberties Union claims that Nebraska has violated state laws since the Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) refuses to disclose details about lethal injection protocol drugs. The civil liberties organization, better known as the ACLU, filed a lawsuit on Friday, seeking to have a judge “compel” the agency to cite its drug suppliers, according to the Omaha-World Herald.

In addition to the ACLU and the World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and the Associated Press requested access to public records to discern the information about the state’s death drug suppliers. The NDCS has refused to release the information, which led to the ACLU filing suit.

Civil liberties group cites bad ‘backroom deals’ in state’s past over execution drugs

According to World-Herald and the executive director of the ACLU [VIDEO] in Nebraska, Danielle Conrad, the NDCS’s refusal stands in violation of the state’s tradition of “open government.” Conrad raised the issue of the state history of having tried to attain drugs needed for its execution protocol, entailing “backroom deals” along with efforts to “circumvent federal law.”

In 2015, Nebraska tried buying $54,000 worth of execution drugs from a supplier in India, but the deal was thwarted when the U.S. government intervened, blocking delivery. The government questioned the “drug’s legality,” according to the Washington Post. The controversial deal evolved from the state’s sodium supply of thiopental expiring in 2013.

Public records request disclosed previous ‘botched purchase’ process for execution drug

The ACLU contends that the public would not have known of the “botched purchase” if not for an earlier public records request, several news agencies have reported. “Decisions made in darkness,” according to Conrad, “don’t belong in Nebraska politics,” the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Additionally, in May 2015, Nebraska abolished its death penalty. Capital punishment was revived and reinstated when voters approved a 2016 referendum that was underwritten with $300,000 of Governor Pete Rickett’s money.

Dawn-Renee Smith is a spokeswoman for the NDCS. She stated that Nebraska’s death cocktail, which is slated for Jose Sandoval includes diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium, and potassium chloride. Sandoval was informed on November 9 that he will be the next to die in the state by lethal injection.

Nebraska’s never carried out capital punishment by lethal injection

Now that the condemned inmate and the public know of Sandoval’s pending execution what isn’t known is the drug supplier and that is what concerns the ACLU and news agencies that endeavored to discern the source of the drugs.

Not since the execution of Robert E. Williams in 1997 has capital punishment been carried out in Nebraska.

Williams was executed by electric chair but the state’s Supreme Court has since ruled electrocution unconstitutional, declaring it cruel and unusual punishment, the World-Herald noted. Nebraska has never used lethal injection for capital punishment.

In response to requests for disclosure about death drug details, the state is standing on its belief that the information is protected, citing “attorney-client privilege,” the Post reported. Since the drug supplier is intrinsic in the “execution team,” the NDCS asserts supplier details are confidential.

Smith hasn’t commented on the ACLU’s lawsuit. She did state, however, that the NDCS does not “publicly discuss pending litigation,” according to the Post.