Reporter sues over Missouri’s picks of execution witnesses

Scales of Justice

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – An online reporter whose stories have been critical of Missouri’s death penalty procedures alleges in a federal lawsuit that he’s wrongly been excluded from being an execution witness.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s suit Wednesday on Buzzfeed News reporter Christopher McDaniel’s behalf asks a judge to block anyone other than Missouri’s attorney general from serving as an execution witness until McDaniel’s due-process claims are decided.

McDaniel says he applied in January 2014 to witness a Missouri execution but never got a response, and 17 executions have been carried out by the state since.

That lawsuit says the prison system’s director has “unfettered discretion” in deciding who can be a witness.

Messages were left Wednesday with representatives of Missouri’s governor and attorney general.