tampabay.com

Judge stops effort to subpoena reporters

By THOMAS C. TOBIN
Published May 12, 2007


A Marion County judge has ended an attempt by a death row inmate to subpoena the testimony and notes of four Florida journalists who witnessed a botched execution last year.

Attorneys for Ian Deco Lightbourne wanted the reporters to testify about what they saw during the Dec. 13 lethal injection of Angel Diaz, who took 34 minutes to die - twice the normal time.

Lightbourne's attorneys are trying to prove that Diaz suffered, and that lethal injections in Florida are cruel and unusual punishment.

But Marion County Circuit Judge Carven D. Angel quashed the subpoenas, ruling that Lightbourne's attorneys had not exhausted the list of other witnesses to the Diaz execution. Florida law grants reporters a privilege allowing them to resist subpoenas when the information sought can be garnered from other witnesses.

The inmate's attorneys had sought the testimony of St. Petersburg Times reporter Chris Tisch as well as Phil Long of the Miami Herald, Ron Word of the Associated Press and Nathan Crabbe of the Gainesville Sun. The Times has published Tisch's notes from the day of the Diaz execution.

Also Friday, Angel quashed subpoenas for the Diaz executioner and his team.