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A look at Oklahoma's execution drug secrecy case

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • April 23, 2014 - 9:25 PM

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner are not entitled to know the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them. The court, which is the highest in the state for civil cases, had previously halted their executions, even though critics said only the Oklahoma Court of Appeals can issue stays. The Court of Appeals is the highest in the state for criminal cases. Here is a look at the inmates' legal challenge:

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Feb. 26: The inmates, whose executions are scheduled for March, file a civil lawsuit against the state seeking details about the drugs that will be used to execute them, including their source.

March 10: District Court Judge Patricia Parrish says that she's willing to take the civil case but that she cannot set aside the inmates' execution dates. Parrish says the state Court of Criminal Appeals, which sets execution dates, must decide on requests for stays of execution.

March 11: Defense attorneys ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to delay the executions.

March 13: The Supreme Court forwards to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals the request from the inmates to halt their executions.

March 18: The Court of Criminal Appeals reschedules both executions because the Department of Corrections doesn't have enough drugs to carry out death sentences. The court moves Lockett's execution to April 22 and Warner's to April 29, but doesn't rule on the merits of their request for a stay.

March 26: Parrish rules that a "veil of secrecy" preventing the inmates from seeking information about the drugs violates their constitutional rights.

April 1: After changing its execution protocol, Oklahoma reveals the combination of drugs it plans to use to execute the two men. But it does not disclose the name of the compounding pharmacy that will make some of the drugs.

April 7: The inmates ask the Court of Criminal Appeals to delay their execution until their lawsuit can be settled.

April 9: The Court of Criminal Appeals says that without an action pending in that court directly challenging the convictions or death sentences, it is "is without authority to issue stays of execution in this matter."

April 11: The inmates ask the state Supreme Court to halt their executions.

April 17: The Supreme Court rules for second time in a month that it is not the place to seek a stay.

April 18: The Court of Criminal Appeals again says it can't halt the executions.

April 21: A sharply divided Oklahoma Supreme Court puts on hold the executions, a day before Lockett is scheduled to die. The court does not rule on whether the state must reveal the source of the drugs, saying only that the inmates deserve to have their case heard. "The 'rule of necessity' now demands that we step forward," the court's majority opinion says. "We can deny jurisdiction, or we can leave the appellants with no access to the courts for resolution of their 'grave' constitutional claims."

April 22: Gov. Mary Fallin grants Lockett a one-week stay of execution and says the Supreme Court overstepped its authority.

April 23: A member of the Republican-controlled Legislature orders that articles of impeachment be drafted for the five state Supreme Court justices who agreed to halt the executions. Later in the day, the state Supreme Court rules that the death row inmates are not entitled to know the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them and lifts its stay. Fallin's stay for Lockett is still in place.

© 2014 Star Tribune