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Oklahoma Supreme Court lets executions go forward

Justices lift stay after ruling inmates don’t have right to know source of drugs.
by Nolan Clay Published: April 23, 2014

The Oklahoma Supreme Court Wednesday evening ruled two convicted murderers’ executions can go forward.

Justices had voted 5-4 Monday to halt the executions — until a legal challenge could be resolved.

Justices on Wednesday ruled unanimously against the inmates on that legal issue and let the executions proceed.

Clayton Derrell Lockett and Charles Frederick Warner are now scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection next Tuesday.

Both complained in February that they need to know who was supplying the execution drugs. They contended they needed the information in order to challenge their executions as cruel and unusual punishment.

Under state law, the identity of the drug supplier is confidential. An Oklahoma County judge in March — ruling in favor of the murderers — declared that law unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court Wednesday reversed the Oklahoma County judge’s ruling, saying the secrecy provision does not violate the inmates’ constitutional right of access to the courts.

Justices noted that “the inmates have been provided with the identity of the drug or drugs to be used in the executions and with the dosages to be injected.”

The ruling Wednesday appears to put an end to what Attorney General Scott Pruitt had called a constitutional crisis.

The Supreme Court had never before in its history blocked an execution. Both Gov. Mary Fallin and the attorney general complained after Monday’s ruling that the Supreme Court had overstepped its constitutional authority.

Normally, in Oklahoma, the Supreme Court handles civil issues and the Court of Criminal Appeals handles criminal matters.

The Court of Criminal Appeals had not blocked the executions and Lockett was supposed to be put to death Tuesday.

Faced with conflicting court orders, the governor on Tuesday rescheduled Lockett’s execution for next week.

Lockett, now 38, was convicted of the 1999 fatal shooting of Stephanie Neiman.

Warner, 46, was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s baby daughter, Adriana Waller, in 1997.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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