Lawyers representing two death row inmates who are suing the state over its ability to keep the source of its lethal injection drugs secret asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday for an emergency stay of execution.
The men are not appealing their sentences, but are asking for a delay in their executions until their case is adjudicated. Clayton Derrell Locket, 38, is scheduled for execution March 20, and Charles Frederick Warner, 46, is scheduled for execution March 27.
Lockett and Warner are challenging the constitutionality of the state law allowing the state Corrections Department to shield its source of pentobarbital, a barbiturate used in Oklahoma’s lethal injection process, and whether or not a change allowing the use of pentobarbital was a violation of the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act.
Monday, Oklahoma County District Court Judge Patricia Parrish agreed with an objection filed by the state attorney general’s office which asserts since the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set the execution dates and denied previous appeals by the men, the appeals court is the proper venue to hear the case.
That court would be the third to hear the case. The restraining order was originally scheduled for hearing in district court, but the case was moved to federal court last week at the request of the state, and then moved back to district court by a federal judge.
Parrish also noted while the Court of Criminal Appeals can address the restraining order, she or a civil judge would have jurisdiction over Lockett and Warner’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection procedure.
Lawyers for the two inmates also filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court requesting a merits ruling on their challenge to Oklahoma’s execution procedure. Through the appeal they hope to get, among other things, a decision on whether or not Parrish has jurisdiction to grant a stay of execution and if the state Supreme Court is the proper venue to hear their client’s challenge to state law.