MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

March 14, 2014

Oklahoma Supreme Court denies state, inmates’ appeal

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected appeal from two death row inmates who are seeking a stay of execution and challenging the state’s procedures for lethal injections.

On Thursday, the state’s highest court said that requests for stays should be heard by the state Court of Criminal Appeals and that the inmates’ lawsuit challenging what they say is secrecy surrounding state execution procedures should be heard in Oklahoma County District Court.

Both the inmates and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office filed appeals asking the state’s highest court to reconsider. Lawyers for the inmates wanted the court to remand the entire case to district court, and the Attorney General’s office requested the entire case be sent to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal appeals.

In its denial Friday, the Supreme Court stood by its original ruling. There were two dissenting justices, with Justice Steven W. Taylor writing that he would grant both petitions for a rehearing and vacate the Thursday order to send the entire case to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

“The issues raised concerning lethal injection drugs are inextricably intertwined with the request for stay of execution,” he wrote. “This Court has crossed the Rubicon by returning even a portion of this case to the civil division of the district court.”

The Court of Criminal Appeals said Friday both sides should present briefs before Monday, although two judges said Friday they would grant a 30-day stay immediately. Clayton Lockett is scheduled to be executed Thursday, and Charles Warner is to die March 27.

A hearing in district court is set for the day of Lockett’s execution.

The inmates want to find out what drugs will be used in their execution, where, when and from whom the drugs were obtained and how the drugs have been stored.

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