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ACLU Sues NV Dept. Of Corrections, Seeking Details Ahead Of Dozier's Execution

(AP Photo/Ken Ritter, File)

In this Aug. 17, 2017 file photo, Nevada death row inmate Scott Raymond Dozier confers with Lori Teicher, a federal public defender involved in his case, during an appearance in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas

Nevada's Department of Corrections is scheduled to carry out its first execution in years next week. 

Convicted murderer Scott Dozier has said he wants to die, and the state Supreme Court mandated his execution take place on Wednesday. 

But there are still questions about how it's going to happen. 

It's been said Nevada plans on using a drug cocktail that hasn't been used in executions before. 

On Thursday, a judge ordered the Nevada Department of  Corrections to give more information about its plan to execute Dozier to the ACLU of Nevada.

Amy Rose is the group's legal director. She said it is important for the public to know how the state is executing someone, because an execution can't violate the constitutional amendment against cruel and unusual punishment. 

One of the concerns comes from the drugs to be used in execution. Many drug companies have moved to forbid states buying drugs to be used for execution.

The ACLU sued the DOC to find out basic information about where the drugs to be used came from, and what is in the cocktail.

"We're concerned that, possibly, the Department of Corrections got these [drugs] through a manner that was improper or unlawful, and just generally it's important for the public to know what the Department of Corrections is doing & where they got the drugs they're going to use for an execution," Rose said.

The cocktail includes a sedative called midazolam. Rose said that drug has been controversial in several executions, including one in Arizona where an inmate took two hours to die instead of 10 minutes.

She said Arizona stopped allowing the drug to be used for executions after that incident.

The rest of the drug cocktail consists of the powerful opioid fentanyl, and a paralytic that Rose said will suffocate Dozier -- if the other two drugs don't kill him first.

"There are so many concerns and problems with this particular protocol they plan to use that there is a real risk of a botched execution here next week," she said.

One of the aspects of the case making it unique is that Scott Dozier has asked to die. He has ended all of his appeals and wants to be executed.

However, Rose points out just because Dozier has asked to be executed, doesn't mean the Constitution gets thrown out the window.

"Our main purpose was not to stop the execution, but to hold the government accountable to the people and to make sure we know what they're doing," she said.

Beyond how Scott Dozier is going to die, the larger question for the country is whether there is a way to execute someone humanely. For the ACLU, such doesn't exist.

"From the ACLU's perspective, we really encourage the law and people and the community to think about whether the whole concept of capital punishment is humane, or if that is cruel for the state to take those actions and murder someone on their own," Rose said.

Rose said they should know more about how the state plans to take Dozier's life by the end of the day Friday.

Amy Rose, legal director, ACLU of Nevada

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)