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Drop corrections board from suit, Oklahoma argues

Oklahoman Published: August 14, 2014
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Attorneys representing the state in a lawsuit over Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedures have again asked a federal judge to dismiss the Board of Corrections from the complaint, along with any death row inmate who does not have a pending execution date.

In court papers filed Wednesday, attorneys for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections argued the corrections board shouldn’t be named in the lawsuit, saying it’s not involved in determining what execution protocol is used in the state.

The filing comes in a lawsuit filed by 21 Oklahoma death row inmates who sued after the April execution of Clayton Lockett. Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered a review into the state’s execution procedures, and it remains pending.

The state also argued that it would be “imprudent and inefficient” to move forward in the case before the review is finished — a request that’s being opposed by the death row inmates’ lawyers. The inmates are trying to halt any attempt to execute them using the state’s current lethal injection protocols.

“What is relevant and subject to litigation are the specific protocols guiding executions in Oklahoma,” the filing from the state said. “However … these protocols are under review, and are subject to change. Therefore, the only issues that this court could resolve could become moot after the review.”

Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton halted Lockett’s execution April 29 after attendants said it appeared Lockett wasn’t receiving a full dose of three lethal drugs. Lockett was later pronounced dead, and complete results from his autopsy are pending.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot has scheduled a Sept. 18 hearing in the case.