Constitutional Law

Oklahoma governor stops execution of Richard Glossip after SCOTUS denies last-minute appeal

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For the second time this month, the scheduled execution of Richard Glossip has been canceled within hours of when he was to be put to death by the state of Oklahoma, for a murder he says he had no role in committing.

This time, it was the state’s governor who unexpectedly issued the reprieve. Gov. Mary Fallin said she did so because there was a question about the legality of one of the drugs that was to be used, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports.

The U.S. Supreme Court had given the OK today for the execution to proceed despite an appeal by Glossip’s lawyers for more time for the state to review claimed evidence of their client’s innocence.

“Last-minute questions were raised today about Oklahoma’s execution protocol and the chemicals used for lethal injection,” Fallin said in a written statement. “After consulting with the attorney general and the Department of Corrections, I have issued a 37-day stay of execution while the state addresses those questions and ensures it is complying fully with the protocols approved by federal courts.”

Glossip’s next execution date is Nov. 6.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano had written a letter to Fallin on behalf of Pope Francis urging that Glossip’s execution be called off. A similar letter was sent to Georgia urging that convicted murderer Kelly Gissendaner’s death sentence be commuted. Gissendaner was executed Wednesday.

In the Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross, Glossip and other Oklahoma defendants had asked the court to determine whether the use of midazolam in lethal injections is unconstitutional. The court ruled 5-4 in June that the inmates failed to establish that the use of the drug violates the Eighth Amendment.

CNN, the New York Times (reg. req.) and the Oklahoman also have stories.

Related coverage: “Oklahoma appeals court stays execution of Richard Glossip”

The New Yorker: “Richard Glossip and the End of the Death Penalty”

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