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Court rules public funds should be used to pay lawyer in Oklahoma death drug case

10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses Feb. 12 decision related to the execution of a man who killed a woman and her two children in Canadian County.
BY ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ Modified: September 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm •  Published: September 5, 2013

— An appeals court ruled Wednesday that an attorney who sued over an issue with an Oklahoma death-chamber drug must be paid with public funds for his work on the lawsuit.

The 3-0 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a sealed decision on Feb. 12 by U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City against Norman attorney James Drummond.

She denied his request to be paid with public funds, on grounds that his work on the lawsuit was not within the scope of compensable work under the federal system of paying court-appointed attorneys.

Drummond's lawsuit a year ago was on behalf of Michael Hooper, convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her two children in 1993. The bodies were found in rural Canadian County

The lawsuit alleged that the use of pentobarbital — a barbiturate that was one of three drugs used in Oklahoma executions — could lead to an inhumane death because the state Corrections Department had only one dose.

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