Oklahoma Supreme Court stays executions, orders hearing on drugs

Oklahoma Attorney General says state Supreme Court has caused a "constitutional crisis" by taking jurisdiction in dispute on execution drugs.
By Frances Burns  |  April 22, 2014 at 8:50 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, April 22 (UPI) -- Two inmates scheduled to die in Oklahoma this week and next have received stays from the state Supreme Court pending a hearing on the execution drugs.

The high court ruled late Monday in a decision Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said had caused a "constitutional crisis for our state." The state Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals have been fighting about jurisdiction since a lower-court judge ruled last month that the Oklahoma law protecting the identity of the companies supplying the drugs is unconstitutional.

The Court of Criminal Appeals said it has jurisdiction but could not rule because the inmates did not have pending appeals. The high court, after telling the other court it could make a decision, took matters into its own hands Monday.

Clayton Lockett had been scheduled to die Tuesday for a 1999 rape and murder and Charles Warner for killing and raping an 11-month-old girl in 1997.

Their lawyers, Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day, released a statement saying that going ahead with the executions would have caused "irreparable harm."

Drugs to be used for executions have become a major issue with major pharmaceutical companies refusing to supply them. Death penalty states have been using different formulas and turning to compounding pharmacies to supply them.

[NY Times]

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