Attorneys representing a group of inmates on Oklahoma’s death row asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to halt executions pending a legal challenge to the state’s procedure.
In Oklahoma City, U.S. Federal District Judge Stephen Friot on Monday denied the inmates’ request for a stay in executions, the first of which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday in the case against John Grant.
“The district court itself has acknowledged serious questions about whether Oklahoma’s execution procedures will cause prisoners unconstitutional pain and suffering,” said Dale Baich, lead attorney for the group of inmates.
The group’s legal challenge against the state’s use of a chemical cocktail to carry out executions is set to go to trial in February. Baich argues executions should not go forward until that case is settled.
“We will ask the Tenth Circuit to review the district court’s decision and stay Mr. Grant’s scheduled execution on Thursday, as well as those that are set over the coming months,” he said.
The Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board will hold a clemency hearing for Julius Jones on Nov. 1. Jones, who was convicted of the 1999 murder of Paul Howell, is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 18.
The family of Howell said in a statement they are “relieved” by Friot’s denial of the stay request.
Last month, the pardon and parole board recommended Gov. Kevin Stitt commute Jones’ sentence, which would remove him from death row. The Howell family said they hope the board reconsiders for Jones' clemency hearing.
“This has been an extremely difficult process on our family and so many other homicide victims’ families,” the Howell family said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board will reconsider their position after hearing the Attorney General Office’s presentation in a fair and balanced proceeding tomorrow.”
The pardon and parole board announced Monday night it would reschedule Jones' clemency hearing to Nov. 1. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday.