Former Oklahoma governor, attorney weigh in on governor’s options ahead of Julius Jones decision

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OKAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the wait continues for Gov. Kevin Stitt to decide on the fate of death row inmate Julius Jones, KFOR News spoke to a legal expert and former governor on all the options the governor could decide on, and any legal implications that would follow.

Attorney Ed Blau says the governor’s decision will most likely be final, unless he allows the execution to continue.

“This is one of the decisions that the chief executive has that’s not reviewable,” Blau said. “All that would be left [if the clemency request were denied] is an emergency request to the United States Supreme Court for a stay.”

Blau says even that would likely not change the outcome.

“A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court reversed the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stay of execution for Mr. Jones,” he said. “It seems highly unlikely that the Supreme Court would choose to stay the execution.”

Julius Jones
Julius Jones

State lawmakers are now making their opinions known on what the governor’s decision should be, with five Republicans releasing a joint statement Thursday asking for the governor to grant Julius Jones clemency. But not all legislators agree.

“I will make it 100 percent clear that I have not reviewed the case as much as other cases,” said Republican representative Justin Humphrey. “But in the media publicity that I’ve seen, and in the questions at the parole hearing and hearings, it appears that there is evidence that links him, and it appears that there’s nothing that would persuade me that I would not go ahead with this execution.”

Former governor David Walters is one of the few Oklahomans who can relate to the weight of the governor’s pending decision, having carried out two executions during his term in office.

He says Stitt does have a fourth option.

“One option that has not been talked about in the press is to…not necessarily indefinitely stay, but to continue to renew stays until you reach a level of certainty,” Walters said.

“[Former governor] Mary Fallon issued a number of stays of execution, for example, when they were having difficulty with the executions and couldn’t seem to get that sorted out, and so that is another option.”

Walters adds that, sadly, not everyone takes this decision seriously.

“There have been governors in my view, I’m not going to comment on who, but who’ve treated this fairly cavalierly,” he said. “Somebody bragged about going to bed early on execution night.”

Walters says certainty on the decision, rather than a date of execution, should be the top priority.

“There’s nothing magic about Nov. 18; it’s an arbitrary date,” he said.

Walters says he hopes politics don’t play a role in the outcome.

“There’s a lot of pressure to treat this less seriously and more politically than it should be and there’s campaigns upcoming,” he said.

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