Death Row Attorneys Move To Reopen Civil Lawsuit Over Death Penalty

Friday, February 28th 2020, 9:49 am
By: Grant Hermes

A group of attorneys for Oklahoma death row inmates is asking a federal court to reopen a civil lawsuit alleging the state’s plan to restart executions could violate their clients’ civil rights.

According to the suit filed Thursday, the attorney said they were not properly notified that the state would be resuming capital punishment as specified under a previous agreement.

The suit was suspended for an indefinite amount of time after the state suspended executions in 2015.

“This action was brought… for violations and threatened violations of Plaintiff’s rights under the First, Eight and Fourteenth Amendments,” the motion read.

Executions had been on hold in Oklahoma since 2015. A few weeks ago, state officials announced they were able to find a reliable source of drugs for the lethal injection mixture and will resume that method of execution despite a list of problems and botched executions in the early 2010s.

Because the state didn't have a set team and procedure in place at the time of the announcement, the suit alleged, it violated the terms of the same previous agreement.

A lack of training and execution team members was something the Department of Corrections Interim Director Scott Crow acknowledged earlier this month.

“The thing that we are really focused on is the individuals involved in carrying it out have actually been trained and that there's a process of checks and balances and that each of the requirements in the protocol are done in exactly the way that it's specified,” Crow said.

"State officials plan to resume executions using the same old procedure, but they have not demonstrated what will be different this time. Their lack of planning is a recipe for another Oklahoma execution disaster," Attorney Dale Baich said in a statement about the filing.

Once a new protocol and team are in place, inmates, their families and the families of victims will have to wait 150 days before executions can resume.