DOC asks to have execution access lawsuit dismissed

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Virginia Department of Corrections has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit that claims prison officials are unconstitutionally limiting public access to executions in Virginia.

The lawsuit was filed last month by four media organizations, including The Associated Press and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The complaint alleges that the department is violating the First Amendment by using curtains to block witnesses from seeing certain steps during a lethal injection or electrocution. The lawsuit seeks a court order to ensure the public can view the entire execution process.

In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, prison officials say there is no First Amendment "right" to witness an execution. The DOC also argues that the case involves state law only so should not have been filed in federal court.

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