Tennessee executioner barred from testifying for now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – For the time being, Tennessee’s executioner will not testify in a trial challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection.

The state Court of Appeals issued the order Wednesday in response to a request by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The court gives attorneys for the 33 death row inmate plaintiffs until July 29 to respond.

Slatery argues the executioner’s testimony is irrelevant because the case challenges the written lethal injection protocols, not how they are carried out by a specific person. Slatery also says there could be “irreparable harm” if the executioner’s identity becomes known, despite efforts to conceal it.

The case is being heard in Davidson County Chancery Court, where Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman on Tuesday ordered the executioner to testify by telephone with his or her voice obscured.