UPDATE: Oklahoma court rules lethal injection drug secrecy law unconstitutional

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma judge has ruled the state’s execution law is unconstitutional because it denies death row inmates the ability to know the source of the drugs used in executions.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said “I do not think this is even a close call.”

Attorneys for death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner argued without having access to information regarding the source and quality of execution drugs, there is the potential for a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights, which prohibit the government from imposing “cruel and unusual” punishments.

When inmate Michael Lee Wilson was being executed by injection in January, he reportedly said “I feel my whole body burning.”

“The statute prohibited our clients and anyone else from ever getting access to the information to know if they (government) were doing it legally,” attorney Susanna Gattoni said following the decision. “The citizens of the state deserve to know how it is that the state is executing people and that’s simply all we asked of the court.”

Tom Bates, First Assistant Attorney General, would only say “we’re disappointed with the court’s ruling and we’ll be looking forward to making our arguments on appeal.”

Judge Parrish said, “To say that no one, not even the court, has access to this information, I think that does deny them (inmates) access to the court.”

Assistant Attorney General John Hadden argued the ruling was “treading into some deep water,” saying the inmates hadn’t proved they were at risk of suffering and their executions were inevitable.

He said the state’s secrecy law protects drug makers from threats and public scrutiny.

Lockett was convicted of torturing, shooting and burying alive19 yea

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma judge has ruled the state’s execution law is unconstitutional because it denies death row inmates the ability to know the source of the drugs used in executions.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said “I do not think this is even a close call.”

Attorneys for death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner argued without having access to information regarding the source and quality of execution drugs, there is the potential for a violation of their Eighth Amendment rights, which prohibit the government from imposing “cruel and unusual” punishments.

When inmate Michael Lee Wilson was being executed by injection in January, he reportedly said “I feel my whole body burning.”

“The statute prohibited our clients and anyone else from ever getting access to the information to know if they (government) were doing it legally,” attorney Susanna Gattoni said following the decision. “The citizens of the state deserve to know how it is that the state is executing people and that’s simply all we asked of the court.”

Tom Bates, First Assistant Attorney General, would only say “we’re disappointed with the court’s ruling and we’ll be looking forward to making our arguments on appeal.”

Judge Parrish said, “To say that no one, not even the court, has access to this information, I think that does deny them (inmates) access to the court.”

Assistant Attorney General John Hadden argued the ruling was “treading into some deep water,” saying the inmates hadn’t proved they were at risk of suffering and their executions were inevitable.

He said the state’s secrecy law protects drug makers from threats and public scrutiny.

Lockett was convicted of torturing, shooting and burying alive 19 year old Stephanie Neiman in 1999.

Warner was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s 11-month old baby, Adriana Waller, in 1997.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided last week to delay the execution of Clayton Lockett to April 22 and the execution of Charles Warner to April 29 because the state was having trouble obtaining two of the three drugs necessary to carry out the executions.

Gattoni said she is anticipating receiving the Attorney General’s appeal and is hoping Judge Parrish’s ruling will be confirmed on appeal before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Warner was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s 11-month old baby, Adriana Waller, in 1997.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided last week to delay the execution of Clayton Lockett to April 22 and the execution of Charles Warner to April 29 because the state was having trouble obtaining two of the three drugs necessary to carry out the executions.

Gattoni said she is anticipating receiving the Attorney General’s appeal and is hoping Judge Parrish’s ruling will be confirmed on appeal before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.