"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oklahoma State to review the death penalty process entirely

Richard Glossip’s stay of execution was just the beginning. Oklahoma State to review the death penalty process entirely. Legal analysis by Jim Kelly.

aNewDomain — The State of Oklahoma has “administratively closed” the capital murder case against Richard Glossip, who was convicted for the 1997 death of Barry Van Treese in an Oklahoma City motel. 

The State effectively ended litigation on Friday, October 16 with an agreed dismissal, but it may resume as early as next year, subject to further review and multi-county grand jury investigation of the lethal injection process.

The Developing Case

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of the OAG announced on Friday:
As I have previously stated, my office is conducting a full and thorough investigation into all aspects of the Department of Corrections’ handling of executions. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) granted the state’s request for an indefinite stay of all scheduled executions.”
The agreement places a hold on all executions in the state for an indefinite period. During this time the state will resume its investigation of the consistently botched use of an unauthorized cocktail of execution drugs, including the improper use of potassium acetate instead of the mandated third-step drug potassium chloride, which stops the heart. Potassium acetate was improperly used in the execution of Charles Warner in January, as revealed in a recently disclosed autopsy report.

The execution drug scandal intensified upon disclosure of Warner’s autopsy report because the improper drug cocktail was nearly used again to execute Glossip on September 30 — until prison officials discovered the mistake. This occurred just two hours before Glossip’s third appointment with death.

In the interest of “judicial economy and comity,” according to the OAG’s legal documents filed in federal court in Glossip v. Gross, scheduled executions will be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the state’s investigation and implementing the necessary changes to the execution drug protocol. Pruitt also commented,
My office does not plan to ask the court to set an execution date until the conclusion of its investigation. This makes it unnecessary at this time to litigate the legal questions at issue in Glossip v. Gross.”
Dale Baich, Glossip’s attoney, said in response to the OAG’s decision,
We’ve always been concerned about transparency in the process of carrying out executions … Hopefully these investigations that Oklahoma intends to pursue will get to the bottom of what went wrong over the last year.”
Meanwhile, former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who is representing the state Department of Corrections (DOC), requested on Thursday that the state attorney general’s multi-county grand jury quash subpoenas of prison records and depositions of his clients, including DOC director Robert Patton.

Source: ANewDomain, Jim Kelly, October 19, 2015

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