OK Supreme Court Reverses Its Decision Over Upcoming Executions

Thursday, April 24th 2014, 5:50 pm
By: News 9

For the first time since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, Oklahoma will put two inmates to death on the same day.

The executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner had originally been scheduled a week apart, but their lawsuit, and the court rulings and executive orders that followed, led to this rare, but not unprecedented, situation.

Lockett and Warner are the two death row inmates who sued earlier this year, claiming the state's secrecy law -- the law that keeps the state from disclosing the source of its execution drugs -- is a violation of their civil rights. A lower court judge agreed, and the state appealed.

4/18/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma AG Appeals District Court Decision In Execution Drug Case

The Court of Criminal Appeals was considering the appeal in Lockett's and Warner's case, but declined to stay their executions. Lockett's had been scheduled for April 22, two days ago, with Warner's a week later on April 29.

In an unprecedented move, a divided state Supreme Court intervened on Monday, issuing indefinite stays for both executions, pending the resolution of the secrecy case.

On Tuesday, Governor Mary Fallin said the Supreme Court had overstepped its authority and ordered the executions go forward, although she did push Lockett's execution date back one week to the April 29, the same day as Warner's.

Then on Wednesday, the Supreme Court did a 180, not only dissolving its Monday ruling, but reversing the lower court ruling that the secrecy law is unconstitutional.

The Governor added her stamp of approval Thursday morning, saying, in a statement, "This ruling shows that our legal system works. The defendants had their day in court. The court has made a decision."

The Governor confirmed the Department of Corrections is working out the logistics for executing both men next Tuesday. The last time the state had multiple capital punishments on the same day was June 1937. It was actually pretty common back then, in fact there were even a few occasions in the 1930's when three men were electrocuted on the same day.

Earlier Thursday, a pair of state lawmakers -- Mike Christian and Ralph Shortey -- announced their intention to try to impeach the five Supreme Court justices who originally voted to delay these executions.

4/21/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Supreme Court Grants Execution Stays For 2 Inmates