Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case concerning Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. The protocol came under fire last year after it left an Oklahoma death row inmate dying slowly and gasping for his last breath. The case is expected to be heard this term and was filed by Oklahoma inmates who claim the state’s current protocol violates the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. For additional information regarding death penalty cases or lethal injection call our Tulsa criminal law attorney today.
An Oklahoma criminal defense attorney for the death row inmates reports that his clients are pleased the Supreme Court has accepted the case. They believe the protocol, even when administered correctly, is unable to product a humane execution. One of the original plaintiffs to the case, Charles Warner, was put to death shortly before the Supreme Court issued its decision. All lethal injections have now been halted in the state pending the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.
The Oklahoma Attorney General defended the state’s execution protocol, stating that it has been affirmed by two federal courts and used in several executions, including some in Florida.
In 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case of Baze v. Rees. It found that Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol was constitutional. However, since this time, due to the unavailability of certain drugs, many states have changed their protocols and experimented with different drugs. In the eyes of many, the issue is thus ripe for re-consideration.
Present Oklahoma Death by Lethal Injection Protacol:
Currently, Oklahoma uses the intravenous drug midazolam which is intended to cause unconsciousness, followed by rocuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and then potassium chloride that stops the head. Critics of Oklahoma’s protocol argue that the first drug, midazolam, has not been FDA approved as a general anesthetic. As such, it fails to maintain the level and prolonged unconsciousness necessary for a humane execution.
Oklahoma is not the only state to use this three drug protocol that includes midazolam. Florida, Alabama, and Virginia also use the regime. Ohio and Arizona used midazolam in a two drug combination. Recently, however, Ohio abandoned the use of midazolam after the botched execution of Dennis McGuire. McGuire’s case raised national concern after he appeared to convulse and gasp for air for a full ten minutes before he died.
McGuire’s case came months before the botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett was administered the three drug injection but begin to writhe and shake uncontrollably. The drugs were discontinued as officials attempted to uncover the problem. It appears that Lockett’s vein blew, making the drugs not work as they were supposed to. Lockett died from a heart attack that was undoubtedly brought on by the drugs. His attorneys contest the blown vein theory, stating Lockett had prominent veins.
Executions like Lockett and McGuire’s have propelled the nation to become more concerned about the process of lethal injection and the constitutionality of current methods. Many states have turned to a one injection method that they feel is less prone to error and the possibility of suffering. The Supreme Court’s decision in the current Oklahoma case before it will be influential across the country.
Tulsa Criminal Lawyers Law Office:
Our Tulsa Criminal Law Attorney understands the severe consequences of a criminal charge. Our Tulsa attorneys have decades of experience in the field of criminal defense and will fight aggressively for your best legal outcome. We seek to have your case dismissed, a favorable plea agreement reached, or a not guilty verdict rendered at trial. The Tulsa criminal law attorney at Tulsa Criminal Lawyers Law Office has the skill and experience you need to achieve the best legal outcome. Call us today at 918-379-4864 to schedule your free consultation.