State Representatives File Open Records Lawsuit Against District Attorney Jason Hicks Over Death Row Inmate Case

Two state representatives are claiming a District Attorney attempted to influence the case of death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Thursday, March 21st 2024, 7:42 am

By: News 9


Two state representatives are claiming a District Attorney attempted to influence the case of death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Representatives Justin Humphrey and Kevin McDugle filed an open records lawsuit against DA Jason Hicks.

Hicks is the DA for Caddo, Grady, Stephens, and Jefferson Counties.

The lawmakers claim Hicks and the DA's council had improper communication with the Pardon and Parole board before, during and after Glossip's clemency hearing.

Last week, Hicks released a statement saying this:

"On April 26, 2023, District Attorney Jason Hicks attended Mr. Richard Glossip’s commutation hearing which was open to the public. After that hearing in which Mr. Glossip was denied clemency, anti-death penalty lawyers representing Mr. Glossip made an Open Records request to DA Hicks. The records they requested included records which are indeed Open Records related to the transacting of official State business. These records were released to Mr. Glossip’s attorneys. Other records which are not subject to the Open Records Act and clearly not relevant to either Mr. Glossip’s case or related to official State business were withheld.
Even though the relevant documents were turned over by DA Hicks, a lawsuit was nevertheless filed by State Representatives Kevin McDugle and Justin Humphrey in their individual capacities. This lawsuit alleges and accuses DA Hicks of somehow trying to influence or even deny Mr. Glossip’s due process rights at the clemency hearing, a hearing in which DA Hicks did not have jurisdiction or authority to act since the case originated in another county outside his district. “The allegations and accusations in the lawsuit are pure fiction, and they are not true,” Hicks said.
To put this issue and lawsuit to rest once and for all, DA Hicks chose to release the handful of records requested by McDugle and Humphrey which are not subject to the Open Records Act. In releasing these records, DA Hicks noted, “there is nothing to hide. There is nothing in any record, or other communication that shows I was engaged in any sort of effort to somehow deprive Mr. Glossip, or anyone else for that matter, of a fair commutation hearing at the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. I went to the hearing just as any other citizen could have done to simply support the victim’s family and to show them there were people who would stand with them in their fight for justice. They have endured untold suffering from the devastating loss of their loved one. They are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Just as DA Hicks has now turned over records he is not required to release, he is now calling on Representatives McDugle and Humphrey to be transparent and do the same and release all their communications related to the Glossip case. “The time has come for this issue to be put to rest as the family of Barry Van Treese has suffered enough. I believe the citizens of Oklahoma deserve to know how their government operates, which includes all branches of government including the legislative branch,” Hicks said.
DA Hicks noted that some of the records he has now released include his opinions and comments which he is entitled to make under the First Amendment. Some of these opinions were understandably expressed in frustration and anger and were never intended to be made public. In addition, some of the records contain redactions which have nothing to do with the Glossip matter. The redactions were simply of conversations from other dates and times but had to be included simply because there was no way to screenshot the text messages without including unrelated, irrelevant material.
DA Hicks also commented on a recently published news story and article which incorrectly stated that Hicks was somehow involved in the Glossip prosecution. “I’m grateful that News 12, KXII corrected its previously published news story and article and set the record straight. I was not involved in any way with the prosecution, and I certainly have not communicated with any witness in the case. Stating otherwise is simply untrue.”
DA Hicks pointed out that in spite of personal attacks, he remains undeterred in his support for crime victims in Oklahoma. He was among the first supporters of Marsy’s Law which enshrined crime victims’ rights into Oklahoma’s constitution. “When I was elected District Attorney in 2010, I pledged to the citizens in my district that I would stand for justice and do everything in my power to ensure victims were given a voice. I have kept that pledge. My track record is clear. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with victims.” Hicks said."

Hicks released those texts and emails in response to the lawsuit, but Humphrey and McDugle say the records are heavily redacted, and they believe Hicks is withholding information.

Humphrey responded in a statement saying:

"We brought this lawsuit to promote transparency in government. Jason Hicks took ten months to provide open records only after a lawsuit was filed, which is unacceptable. Citizens shouldn't have to sue for access to public records. Hicks continues to withhold information by redacting the records he produced."
"These records show that some district attorneys are more interested in protecting their own than acknowledging how problems in the Glossip investigation undermined the integrity of his death sentence. The public deserves to know if district attorneys illegally opposed Oklahoma’s chief law enforcement officer in the Richard Glossip case. We will continue our pursuit for transparency. District attorneys are officials who wield enormous power in our justice system, and they should be held to the highest standards."


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