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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Attorneys for Julius Jones have filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction based on the drugs Oklahoma uses to execute inmates.

The plaintiffs are focusing on the execution of John Grant, where witness say he was convulsing and vomiting.

Julius Jones is set to be executed Thursday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m.

His attorneys argue Grant’s execution is new evidence that Oklahoma’s three drug cocktail is cruel and unusual punishment.

The motion, supported by the declarations of eyewitnesses to Mr. Grant’s execution and medical experts, argues that Mr. Grant’s execution provides “compelling evidence that [Oklahoma’s] Execution Protocol and the use of midazolam, as well as the cursory consciousness checks done under the Protocol, pose a serious and substantial risk of suffering and pain to prisoners.”

It argues that Mr. Jones – and three other death row plaintiffs – should not executed before the trial on the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s execution protocol – scheduled to begin in February 2022 – is resolved.

The motion notes that yesterday, “some members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board expressed similar concerns about the execution of Mr. Grant, and suggested that no executions take place until after the trial.”

Read the motion below:

Julie Gardner, investigator with the public defenders office, bore witness to the execution

“Mr. Grant’s execution was the first execution I witnessed where Midazolam was one of the drugs administered,” said Gardner. “I hope to never witness another execution where Midazolam is being used. It was horrifying to watch.”

Read her testimony below:

Gardner Exhibit by KFOR on Scribd

Meghan LeFrancois, Assistant Federal Public Defender, testified, “Based on his vomiting and gasping, I was worried he was going to choke on his vomit, or already was. I also remember one specific point when Mr. Grant’s back lifted dramatically up off the gurney.”

LeFrancois also said she ‘did not realize when the doctor was wiping him off this last time and turning his face that this was apparently the consciousness check.’

“I only realized that when, shortly after the doctor left the room (I believe around 6.5 minutes after I started my stopwatch), an announcement was made that Mr. Grant was unconscious,” said LeFrancois.

Read her witness statement below:

Meghan Exhibit by KFOR on Scribd

Dr. Michael Weinberger – a Professor at Columbia University Medical School, a practicing Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a Board-Certified Pain Medicine Specialist – provided a report for the injunction to say the protocol, including its use of Midazolam and the consciousness check, ‘put prisoners at a substantial risk of severe pain and suffering.’

“It is reasonable to conclude based on this inadequate consciousness check that John Grant was at substantial risk of suffering severe pain and suffering from the second and third drugs.

Any other prisoners under this Protocol, including this inadequate consciousness check, would also be at substantial risk of severe pain and suffering as well.”

Emergency motion

Read Dr. Weinberger’s testimony below:

Doctor Exhibit by KFOR on Scribd

Dr. Joseph Cohen, who performed Grant’s autopsy for his funeral services, also gave three findings based on witness testimony and the autopsy.

  1. The decedent’s conjunctivae reflect numerous petechial hemorrhages. These hemorrhages are consistent with an asphyxial mechanism of death, including intractable seizures.
  2. Based on the witness accounts I reviewed, I cannot rule out conscious pain and suffering. In addition, I am unable to rule out aspiration of gastric contents (choking) as another possible contributing mechanism of
  3. I cannot rule out incomplete sedation. Indeed, the movements of the prisoner up to the consciousness check may be explained by the prisoner being sensate to the pain and suffering, full-body convulsions and movements consistent with air hunger.

Read the full analysis here:

Cohen Exhibit by KFOR on Scribd