Larry Flynt wants to stop Missouri from executing the man whose bullet put the publisher of Hustler magazine in a wheelchair for life. Over the weekend, Flynt and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit to force the state to release documents on how the state determines the process by which it kills prisoners.
Joseph Paul Franklin, 63, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Nov. 20. Missouri last month delayed the execution of convicted murderer Allen Nicklasson after the German manufacturer of the drug propofol objected to its use in the deadly mixture of drugs designed to execute inmates.
Like many states, Missouri has had a complicated relationship with the death penalty, which was effectively suspended by the U.S. Supreme Court on constitutional grounds in 1972 but reinstated in 1976. Legal attacks on the death penalty have continued ever since, and the wave now includes questions about the drugs used in the execution and whether they really stop unusual pain and suffering.
Companies in Europe, where capital punishment is generally banned, have often appealed to U.S. authorities not to use their products — designed to aid healing — as weapons of death.
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Missouri has said it will revise the ingredients of its death cocktail in time to execute Franklin. It had halted lethal injections in 2006 after questions about how a doctor on the death team administered the lethal injection.
Franklin, who told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1995 that he had changed his name to honor Joseph Paul Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, has been convicted of eight racially motivated murders in several states. In Missouri, he was convicted of using a hunting rifle to kill a man outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977. He has told authorities that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.
In addition to his convictions, he has admitted blowing up a Tennessee synagogue and the home of a lobbyist in Maryland. He also claimed responsibility for trying to kill civil-rights leader Vernon Jordan and for shooting Flynt in 1978 because he was upset at interracial photo spreads in the sex magazine.
Flynt has become increasingly more vocal about saving Franklin from death. In columns in The Hollywood Reporter last month, Flynt said he objected to the execution and also challenged the methodology of execution and the lack of transparency.
On Saturday, he and the ACLU went to court, seeking documents from the state.