2 Oklahoma Death Row Inmates Get Reprieve



(Newser)

A federal appeals court granted stays of execution on Wednesday for two Oklahoma inmates who were scheduled to receive lethal injections in the coming weeks, the AP reports. A three-member panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stays for death row inmates John Marion Grant, who was scheduled to die on Thursday, and Julius Jones, whose lethal injection was set for Nov. 18. The court ruled that US District Judge Stephen Friot in Oklahoma erred when he removed Grant, Jones, and three other inmates from a lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection protocols because they did not designate an alternative method of execution.

The court determined that the inmates did identify alternative methods in their complaint, even if they didn’t specifically check a box designating which specific method they would use. The panel wrote, “We find nothing in the relevant case law that specifically requires a prisoner to designate a method of execution to be used in his case by ‘checking a box’ when the prisoner has already identified in his complaint the very same alternative methods given as choices on the form.” Dale Baich, an attorney for some of the death row inmates, said the court made the right decision.

“Today’s order should prevent the state from carrying out executions until the federal district court addresses the ‘credible expert criticism’ it identified in Oklahoma’s execution procedures,” Baich said in a statement. “Those issues will be carefully reviewed by the court at the trial scheduled in February.” Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said he planned to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court.

(Read more Oklahoma stories.)

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