Audio: Lawsuit dismissed after Missouri changes policy on execution witnesses

Missouri Department of Corrections

The Missouri Department of Corrections has changed its execution witness-selection policy as part of a lawsuit settlement.



The change in policy led to the formal dismissal of the federal suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2016 on behalf of BuzzFeed News journalist Chris against former Department of Corrections Director George Lombardi.

The Department under current Director Anne Precythe has agreed to give media organizations the authority to choose their own representatives rather than leaving it up to the director to include or exclude specific reporters. The agreement came after the ACLU objected to Precythe’s previous proposal for a nondiscrimination clause, which it claimed didn’t address viewpoint discrimination.

McDaniel wasn’t granted access to witness a 2014 execution after reporting that Missouri’s execution drug supplier was not licensed to sell in Missouri, which could be a felony.

Under the new agreement, the Department of Corrections will now permit the Associated Press, the Missouri Press Association, the Missouri Broadcasters’ Association, and Missourinet, as a news outlet with a broad reach across the state, to designate a reporter to witness executions.