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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

U.S. Supreme Court could revisit ruling on controversial Oklahoma execution protocol

A controversial death penalty case in Oklahoma is back in the national spotlight.

The U.S. Supreme Court could revisit a ruling involving Richard Glossip.

You may remember, his attorneys challenged the use of a certain lethal injection drug used in our state.

The new developments are stemming from a big case in Arkansas.

Attorneys for 9 death row inmates challenged Arkansas's execution protocol, and when their state supreme court upheld it, the justices cited the ruling in the Richard Glossip case.

"The Glossip case has resulted in an unmitigated disaster in Oklahoma," attorneys representing the Arkansas death row inmates wrote in a recent court filing.

Now, those attorneys are taking a possible loophole in the Glossip case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"They challenged the execution method by saying for example, a person can be put to death by firing squad. Apparently, the Arkansas Supreme Court said that may be true, but that's not a method that's authorized by law here in Arkansas," criminal defense attorney David Smith said.

Legal experts say the U.S. Supreme Court left some things unanswered in the Glossip case.

Richard Glossip's attorneys challenged the constitutionality of Midazolam, the sedative used in Oklahoma's executions.

"The Supreme Court says you have to identify another method of execution that's available and feasible, it's known and attainable, but they don't say whether it has to be something authorized by state law of that state," Smith said.

In Oklahoma, there are only 3 drugs authorized for use in executions.

Last year, officials discovered a wrong drug was about to be used on Richard Glossip, and Gov. Fallin issued a last-minute stay.

That was months after that same wrong drug was actually used in the execution of Charles Warner.

For now, it's up in the air whether a new ruling could affect future Oklahoma executions, but legal experts say more clarity in the Glossip ruling is critical.

"It's kind of a splitting of a hair, but it's a pretty important hair," Smith said.

The executions for those Arkansas inmates are on hold right now.

Their attorney told NewsChannel 4 that he will file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court soon.

He has 90 days.

Richard Glossip's attorney told Newschannel 4 he's hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case.

Source: KFOR news, July 22, 2016


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