Virginia made most of its execution process secret. Now news outlets are suing.

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After witnesses to Ricky Gray's execution reported prison officials took an unusually long time to place IV lines for the chemicals that killed the convicted murder, Virginia moved to shield that process from view, a move several news organizations are now challenging in court.

The lawsuit, filed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Associated Press, Guardian News and Media and Gannett Co. Inc., says the First Amendment guarantees a public right of access to government proceedings, including executions.

"Public access aids the proper functioning of the execution process, guards against unconstitutional executives, and enables the public to exercise meaningful democratic control over a state's enforcement of its most consequential power," the lawsuit says.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday.

Read more from The Virginian-Pilot

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