Oklahoma Judge Finds Execution Secrecy Unconstitutional

On March 26, Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish held that the state’s lethal injection secrecy law violates the constitutional right to due process of inmates slated for execution. “I think that the secrecy statute is a violation of due process because access to the courts has been denied,” she said, saying the case was not “even a close call.” Death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner challenged the law, which bans anyone from disclosing the source of the state’s execution drugs, even in court. Attorneys for Lockett and Warner called the decision “an important step towards greater transparency and accountability in Oklahoma’s execution system” and expressed hope “that no execution will go forward until the state reveals full information about the source of its execution drugs, particularly in light of the new, controversial protocol it unveiled last week….”

Recently, the execution dates for Lockett and Warner were moved from March to April because of uncertainty about procuring the necessary drugs.

(B. E. McBride, “Oklahoma Judge Tosses State Execution Law,” Associated Press, March 26, 2014). See Lethal Injection.