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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin stays execution

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday delayed the execution of a convicted murderer scheduled to die later that day. In an executive order staying Clayton Derrell Lockett’s execution, Fallin said she had to step in and issue the order.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: April 22, 2014 at 8:51 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014

“The second execution will not be affected and the governor does not expect to issue a stay,” governor’s spokesman Alex Weintz said in an email.

Judicial dispute

Lockett, 38, and Warner, 46, sued the state in January over concerns a law allowing the state’s source of lethal injection drugs to remain secret kept them from knowing whether or not their civil rights would be violated. Attorneys for the men contended that rising concerns over the purity of compounded drugs likely to be used in the executions gave them reason to believe the injections could cause pain, resulting in cruel and unusual punishment.

An Oklahoma County judge agreed with the attorneys in March, finding the law restricted access to the courts and was therefore unconstitutional.

However, the judge transferred the stay of execution request to the Court of Criminal Appeals. It then bounced between that court and the state Supreme Court several times.

The state has yet to reveal the source of its drugs, pending a decision on an appeal of the Oklahoma County judge’s ruling.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to reconsider Monday’s ruling.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked for the rehearing, saying the Oklahoma Constitution grants the state Supreme Court jurisdiction over civil cases and the criminal appeals court jurisdiction over criminal cases.

“In 107 years, there has never been any real dispute over what that means. Indeed, this Court has spent the last century emphasizing to criminal defendants that it has absolutely no power to stay enforcement of criminal judgments,” assistant attorneys general wrote. “This Court’s ruling clearly contradicted the spirit, letter and purpose between two co-equal courts.”

One Supreme Court justice, Steven Taylor, strongly disagreed with blocking the executions.

“The Appellants have maneuvered this Court right where they set out to put us and that is, for the first time in this Court’s relevant history, in the middle of a death penalty appeal. We have never been here before and we have no jurisdiction to be here now,” Taylor wrote Monday.

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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