Judge Tosses Oklahoma’s Death Penalty Law

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I know one new bill I’m probably going to be voting on this year.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish has ruled the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional. Judge Parrish found that Oklahoma’s law violated due process because it blocked inmates from learning the names of the companies that manufacture the drugs used in executions.

Drugs used in executions are becoming more scarce because overseas companies refuse to make them due to their objections to the death penalty, and domestic manufacturers want to avoid the controversy surrounding the issue. Attorneys for death row inmates had requested information about the drug manufacturers as part of discovery for what sounds like a potential appeal.

I would guess that there will be legislation to deal with this before the House this year. I am opposed to the death penalty, which makes me part of a tiny minority in the Oklahoma legislature. In fact, I am the only Oklahoma legislator who opposes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and the death penalty. I guess that makes me the only 100% pro life member of the Oklahoma legislature.

My advice to Oklahoma’s death row inmates is to be careful what you wish for. If the drugs for “painless” executions become unavailable, our Oklahoma legislators are perfectly capable of restoring older methods of execution such as the electric chair, firing squads or hanging.

From the Associated Press:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge ruled the state’s execution law unconstitutional Wednesday because its privacy provision is so strict that it that prevents inmates from finding out the source of drugs used in executions, even through the courts.

After condemned inmates gasped or complained they were “burning” during executions in January, inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner asked Oklahoma prison officials who was making the drugs that would kill them and whether the material was pure.

However, under state law, no one is allowed to disclose the source of drugs used in a lethal injection — even if an inmate sues and seeks the information as part of the discovery process. Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said that prevents the inmates from exercising rights under the Constitution.

“I think that the secrecy statute is a violation of due process because access to the courts has been denied,” Parrish ruled.

The supply of drugs used in lethal injections has dried up in recent years as European manufacturers object to their use in executions and U.S. companies fear protests or boycotts.

Some death-penalty states have sought to buy or trade drugs with other states, and some have turned to compounding pharmacies that face less scrutiny from federal regulators. Many, like Oklahoma, made the process secret, too, to protect their suppliers.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    I don’t understand. What is the drug involved, and why won’t an overdose of some normal sedative manufactured for normal medical care work?

    I hate the death penalty as much as any other consistent ethic of life Catholic, but there seems to be something slightly ridiculous in this logic.

    ——
    Ah, I found it on wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental

    Seems to me they could just substitute any number of other ultra-short acting barbiturates and paralytics to get around this. Look out for bills that simply allow the doctors on staff to use whatever is convenient.

    • oregon nurse

      All the drugs needed to kill a prisoner are in the home of any hospice patient dying of a painful condition. The arguments are medically specious. I believe the arguments only got traction because the states tied the laws to specific drug protocols which then tied their hands regarding the substitution of alternate drugs.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        I agree. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. This seems to be a backhanded way of de facto doing away with the death penalty.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    There’s nothing wrong with firing squads.

    • Sus_1

      Sure except in the cases where the person is innocent of the crime they are being killed for.

      I wonder how many Catholics/Christians participate in sending someone to their death via the death penalty. Would that be condoning the death penalty?

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Come on. One has a greater risk of being struck by lightening twice than given the death penalty incorrectly. You take on far greater risks by getting into your car. But to tell you the truth, I was a little facetious when I made my original comment. But I do support the death penalty, though i waver from time to time.

        • Sus_1

          I am not willing to sacrifice a few innocent people so we can kill the guilty.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          “From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
          From all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men,
          From sale and profanation of honour and the sword,
          From sleep and from damnation, Deliver us, good Lord!”
          Now I am not saying that you as a whole person are the kind of cruel and mentally lazy person comforted by easy speeches, but it is that part of you that is in control and indeed wheeling like a peacock here. So it is easier to be struck by lightning than by a judicial mistake? Give me a break, and come visit planet Earth some time. And even if that were the case, which is a million times NOT, how would that have anything to do with Christianity? The good shepherd not only cares for every sheep, but will go out in the desert and the mountains to retrieve it; you, on the other hand, are not bothered at the thought that innocent sheep should go through the agony of homcidal “punishment”, which would be the case even in the best of systems. This is the exact reverse of being a good shepherd; this is being the anti-Christ. Think about it.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Well, come and visit the United States. A person goes through a jury process where 12 people have to come to a conclusion that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; then there are series of judicial reviews that the trial was performed properly where the convicted person has several avenues of appeal. Then after 12 to 15 years of review and appeals, a state governor can pardon a convicted person or in some states give a stay of execution for almost any reason. A person that is executed is almost certainly guilty. I don’t think there has ever been a case where it was later proven that a executed person was found to be innocent. But let’s say in the last hundred years maybe it happened a handful of times. Of the hundreds of millions of people who have lived in the US over the last century maybe one in a hundred million has been executed improperly. Being hit by lightening once has a probability of 1 in 600 thousand. Not sure what it is in being struck twice but it’s similar to being incorrectly executed. It is certain that you have a much much greater chance of being struck by lightening once. And that’s assuming there have been innocent executions. I don’t know if there have.

            • Sus_1

              I’m kind of surprised by your attitude about the death penalty Manny. It seems like you have strong opinions on how dishonest our government and people can be but have no problem trusting that an innocent person wouldn’t be killed via the death penalty.

              I’m not saying you believe this but I think that a lot people feel that if a person is on death row but innocent of the crime, it doesn’t matter because they probably did something else that was bad.

              Statistics do not matter if you are the person being put to death wrongly.

              Johnny Garrett, executed 2/11/1992. After the execution, DNA pointed to someone else

              http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictions/issues/deathpenalty/wrongfulexecutions/johnny-frank-garrett.html

              Joe Arridy, issued a posthumous pardon 72 years after the execution.

              http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/ArridyPardon.pdf

              Here’s a list of people The Innocence Project helped exonerate. Some were on death row.

              http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/Browse-Profiles.php

              • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

                Like I said above, it’s extremely rare that anyone is executed unjustly, something like being hit by lightening twice. There’s no point in my going further. You’re fixed in your position. Yes, in theory everyone is against the death penalty until they actually read a real case of some bastard killing children or women for his pleasure, and then just going to jail, as if that’s enough. The death penalty for some types murders is JUSTICE. It’s the only retribution that makes sense.

                • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                  Manny, at this point I have to tell you that you should speak for yourself or keep your trap shut. Do you imagine that you are the only one who has feelings? I grew up in the years of lead, when terrorists and mafiosi murdered every week. I grew up in a time when, if you went out of the door one morning, you were not sure you would come back in the evening. My sister was within a few yards of an IRA bomb in London that killed dozens. When I was doing my military service, someone once took a pot-shot at me. I have seen the widows weeping, the inconsolable friends and families. I have relatives in the carabinieri, risking their lives merely because of the uniform they wear. And I tell you that you are talking like a bloodthirsty barbarian. We have defeated the terrorists. We have trashed the mafia. And we did it without the aid of state murder and without pandering to the same blood lust that made the mafia what it is.

                  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

                    First, please don’t tell me to keep my trap shut. We’re here to discuss. If all you want is your opinion, then create your own blog and don’t allow comments and pontificate all you want. As to the issue, you have your set of values and sense of justice and I have mine. Let a democracy decide.

                    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                      I said, EITHER speak for yourself OR keep your trap shut. You spoke as if those of us who don’t want to see the state given the right to shed blood at its own will are heartless fanatics who never stopped to consider the plight of the victims. Your attitude was both arrogant and insulting, and it showed complete ignorance of what the actual position against state killing is about. You just imposed on us your inadequate and ignorant idea of what we are supposed to be about, and then crowed about your moral superiority. I got news for you: you have no moral superiority and you have no understanding.

                    • hamiltonr

                      Don’t get personal Fabio. And don’t order people around.

                    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                      Rebecca: and the following wasn’t personal? Yes, in theory everyone is against the death penalty until they actually read a real case of some bastard killing children or women for his pleasure, and then just going to jail, as if that’s enough. In other words, those who oppose the death penalty – like me – are pansies with no knowledge of real life, theoreticians who play games with the lives of others. Madame, that is an insult. That is treating those Manny disagrees with as inferior; it is denying their right to have a view, the value of their own personal experience, and the very idea that they might have something to contribute. It is the end of rational debate on anything. Are you going to tell me that it is not the talk of a bloodthirsty barbiarian?

                    • hamiltonr

                      I dunno Fabio. I’m just trying to keep everyone civil while doing 20 other things.To be honest, I think you can take care of yourself, so I don’t protect you as much. If you think someone plays foul with you, wave your hand.

                    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

                      I shall simply let your words indict yourself because I did nothing of what you calim. You can go through my answers above and I was only speaking for myself. With that, I’ll just turn the other cheek.

                    • hamiltonr

                      Fabio, calm down. Don’t order people to answer or keep their “trap shut.”

                    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                      YOU said the following: Yes, in theory everyone is against the death penalty until they actually read a real case of some bastard killing children or women for his pleasure, and then just going to jail, as if that’s enough. Do you recognize them? they are your words. And they are intended to apply to every person involved in the debate. You have spoken for yourself – and for me, for Rebecca, and for every other person who does not delight in their own blood thirst. You have stated as a matter of fact that this would be my, her, and their reaction if we ever came to meet with a real murderer; implying with dazzling clarity that we are a bunch of theoreticians playing games with words. This is what you said; this is what you implied. Anything else is weasel words.

                      I will add that I believe – and in this I am speaking for myself, and may be wrong – that that splendid quotation of yours above is false in another way. everyone is actually against the death penalty until…. blah blah blah. I don’t believe for a second that you ever spent a minute of your life worrying about the status of the death penalty. I believe that you have been for killing “bastards” from childhood, and that you are outraged that people should disagree with what seems to you obvious and natural (as bad habits always do). And even if I am wrong in your case, that statement is wrong anyway. There are plenty of people who love the thought of murdering murderers, and never stopped to wonder for one minute what that makes them.

                    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

                      Blah, blah, blah, blah. If you take that as to literally meaning universal, then so be it. But you had to go down to a third level response to a specific reply to find a literal inconsitincy when it wasn’t supposed to be taken literally. The death penalty has provided a sense of justice universally across the world for as long as mankind has been in existence. It provides justice. Let a democracy decide. Don’t like it? Don’t live in a democracy that so chooses.

        • FW Ken

          I’m not sure about that stat, Manny. There are many cases where a convicted person was later found innocent. Two days ago there was a case of a murder conviction overturned after the woman spent 30 years locked up. This is not an isolated case. Working in the criminal justice system, I truly don’t trust the state with the power of life and death. There is to much injustice in the system, and once a person is dead, there is no way to right the wrong.

          Anyway, the lightning strike is an act of nature, execution is the act of a human community. :-)

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Ken I said executed, not convicted. There have been a good number of incorrect convictions, but the long review process and the ability for a Gov to grant pardons when in doubt has apparently never resulted in an incorrect execution. At least that we know of.

  • oregon nurse

    “… our Oklahoma legislators are perfectly capable of restoring older
    methods of execution such as the electric chair, firing squads or
    hanging.”

    Precisely. I have so little patience for these kinds of legal manipulations. I know defense attorneys think they are doing their job, but so much of what they do is legal distraction that can have terrible repercusions when it becomes part of case law.

    There is a similar kind of legal cocked pistol, imo, used by the pro-life movement to limit abortion based on fetal pain. I do not support those laws because they can backfire. Yes, it saves lives right now but what it CAN do, and what I think they will do, is simply derail arguments against abortion later when abortionists come up with a cheap and easy protocol to anesthetize the baby. After all, if the problem is pain, not murder, then once the pain is removed all bets are off. It can have the effect of making abortion numbers worse.

    That’s what I think often happens when people dance with the devil even a little bit. He just might let you win a little skirmish today so he can win the entire war later. We should always argue from basic principles – life begins at conception, the state shouldn’t kill prisoners – and never concede the basic ground.

  • pagansister

    Folks are worried about the possible pain during an execution of a person found guilty of we assume a horrible crime, many times involving the murder of an innocent human being. Did the victim get a choice of a painless death? Many, not all of course, of those on death row live another 20 years or longer than their victims. FL. just carried out, last week, the execution of a man who killed another person many, many years ago. What the heck difference does it make if the condemned person knows the manufacturer of the drugs used in his coming execution? Just more legal manipulations on the part of the defense attorney. Wrong or right, IMO, the death penalty is exactly the proper punishment for some crimes that are committed. My heart in most cases, is with the victim (s).

    • 1939to1945

      I disagree that the death penalty is “proper punishment” for anything. I understand that the victims of murder must be the primary concern when a murder takes place and that their innocent lives which were taken are of the upmost importance, but I do not understand why we must take the life of another human being, no matter how vile they are, to fulfill “Justice”.

      The death penalty is no longer needed; we have jails where people can be contained and kept away from society. If they are no longer a threat, why kill them? Isn’t self defense the only “Just” form of killing?

      • pagansister

        I do not find it “just” that a person who willingly and horribly kills another person gets to be sheltered, fed, clothed, and given medical care for the rest of their natural life when the person(s) they killed never got to live out their lives.

        • 1939to1945

          As horrible and sad as it is that the victim of murder will never be able to live out the life they were meant to, it still does not make moral sense to continue the violence by killing the killer. I don’t believe that Capital Punishment is justified just because the criminal does not deserve to eat, be clothed, be under a roof, or have medical care. I think that it is a much larger moral question then that. I just don’t see killing anyone who is not an immediate threat as morally right. I write a prisoner on death row. He is rightfully sorry for what he did. I wish very badly that there was more I could do for his Victim. I think that justice must equally weigh both sides of a story, both the offender and the victim, in order to be justice, and I believe that no one is incapable of rehabilitation and goodness. Even the most sick person.

          • pagansister

            Am glad that the prisoner on death row that you correspond with is sorry for what he did. I expect there are some who aren’t. I also believe that there are some people that are not able to be rehabilitated, due to some flaw in their makeup, they have no conscience or sense of right and wrong, thus that goodness you think is there, isn’t. I cannot agree with you that capital punishment is never justified.

            • 1939to1945

              Well, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. I cannot agree with you that Capital Punishment is EVER justified. However, I thank you for the interesting discussion.

              • pagansister

                Thank you, also, for the discussion. Best to you.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I am against the death penalty, but this is an obscene joke. It will only help convince its supporters that it is we opponents who are the unprincipled scoundrels.


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