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.