Gavel Grab

OK Court Allows Executions; Impeachment Resolution Drafted

The Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted stays of execution it had issued earlier for two inmates, an action that had put it at odds with Gov. Mary Fallin (see Gavel Grab). In the legislature, one member called for impeachment of the five justices in the Supreme Court majority when the stays were issued.

The high court issued on Wednesday a decision finding that the two convicted murderers do not have a constitutional right to be informed of the source of the lethal drugs that will be used to execute them, according to the Associated Press. Earlier in the week, the high court had voted 5-4 to issue the stays of execution, pending a hearing on the secrecy issue; its ruling then was in conflict with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

State Republican Rep. Mike Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, said the five justices who granted the stays of execution were guilty of a “willful neglect of duty,” and he drafted a resolution seeking their impeachment in the Republican-controlled legislature, a separate Associated Press article said.

An uproar over the state Supreme Court’s stays of executions came at a time legislators  are considering legislation to revamp membership of the Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommends candidates for the governor to appoint as appellate judges. The Oklahoma House was scheduled to vote today on the legislation.

Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg cautioned in 2010, in a statement quoted by The Washington Post, “Almost every American, liberal and conservative, has been angered by particular legal rulings, but that’s because we ask courts to settle tough legal disputes. It is reckless to threaten judges with ouster simply because we don’t like a particular decision.”

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