Death Penalty
10:42 am
Wed March 26, 2014

UPDATE: Judge Finds Execution Drug Secrecy Unconstitutional

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that the state's execution law is unconstitutional because it doesn't allow inmates access to the court system.

Under Oklahoma law, no one may disclose the source of drugs used in executions — even if an inmate sues and wants the information as part of the discovery process. 

The main gate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Oklahoma's death row is housed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Credit duggar11 / Flickr

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said Wednesday that provision violates due process rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner sued the state last month. They want to know whether the drugs to be used at their executions next month are pure and that they wouldn't suffer before dying.

The decision leaves intact each death-row inmate's conviction and sentence. A separate court is considering stay requests from the men.

Lockett is scheduled to die April 22. Warner's execution is April 29.

Lockett is to be executed for the 1999 shooting death of a 19-year-old Perry woman. Warner faces execution for the 1997 death of his girlfriend's 11-month-old daughter.

Parrish said it was wrong for the state to say inmates couldn't sue to find out more information about the drugs that would be used to kill them. If upheld by a higher court, Parrish's ruling would remove what's been called a "veil of secrecy" surrounding executions but would not void anyone's conviction or sentence.

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