- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Two Oklahoma death row inmates asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to halt their executions pending a review of the “veil of secrecy” that prevents them from learning who made the drugs that are set to be used to kill them this month.

Lawyers for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner cited a lower court ruling that said it was wrong for Oklahoma prison officials to shield information from the inmates - and even prevent them from learning about the drugs during a lawsuit’s discovery process.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, which sets execution dates, rejected a stay request from the men this week, saying the two hadn’t satisfied procedural hurdles.

Lockett and Warner sued the state in February over what they called a “veil of secrecy” surrounding state execution protocol. The inmates wanted to know who made the execution drugs so they can be assured any impurities wouldn’t cause them to suffer a cruel or unusual death. The inmates were concerned after the January execution of an Oklahoma inmate whose last words were “I can feel my whole body burning.”

Lockett is set to be executed April 22, and Warner is set to die a week later. Lockett was found guilty in the 1999 shooting death of a 19-year-old Perry woman. Warner was found guilty of the 1997 rape and murder of his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter.

The inmates largely objected to the use of drugs produced by a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacies face less government scrutiny than traditional drug manufacturers. Earlier Friday, lawyers for the state told the inmates’ attorneys in a letter that no compounded drugs would be used in the executions.

In a letter from Assistant Attorney General John Hadden, the state informed the inmates’ lawyers that the state had secured non-compounded vercuronium bromide, the second of the three drugs it intends to use in the inmates’ executions. The state said all three drugs to be used will be from a manufacturer, not a compounder.

Madeline Cohen, a lawyer for Charles Warner, said in a request to the state for information that there is no FDA-approved source of midazolam, the first drug in the three-drug combination, in the 50mg to 100ml concentration specified in the Oklahoma execution protocol.

“We asked what dosage of midazolam the state has acquired, and sought information about any dilution that would be undertaken to reach the protocol-specified concentration,” Cohen said. “The state refused to answer these requests, but indicated that it might, yet again, revise its execution protocol, less than two weeks before Mr. Lockett’s April 22 execution date.”

Hadden said the protocol was still under consideration.

“We are currently examining that issue and will not hesitate to update the protocol in the event any numbers were incorrectly expressed within it,” Hadden wrote in the state’s letter. “I can verify, however, that all of the drugs ODOC has acquired for the executions of your clients are FDA approved products from an FDA approved manufacturer and are intended and approved for use in humans.”

Lawyers for the inmates say the state’s attempts at transparency are not enough, and they need to fully reveal information pertaining to the drugs that will be used to execute their clients.

“These revelations only intensify the need for full disclosure of all information relating to the source of Oklahoma’s execution drugs,” Cohen said. “No execution should proceed in Oklahoma until such disclosure has been made and the information evaluated.”


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