[JURIST] The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals [official website] granted a stay of execution [order, PDF] Wednesday for Richard Eugene Glossip, hours before he was scheduled for lethal injection. Glossip has always maintained his innocence and requested the emergency stay as well as a motion for an evidentiary hearing due to alleged new evidence [AP report] that another inmate convicted in the same murder case stated that he acted alone and “set Glossip up.” Glossip had previously argued that the use of the lethal injection drug, midazolam, violates the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment [text, PDF] as it may not bring them to a fully unconscious state before stopping the heart. However, the US Supreme Court [official website], in a 5-4 decision [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in June, ruled that midazolam may be used in executions without violating the Constitution. Glossip’s execution has been rescheduled for September 30. If it proceeds as scheduled, Glossip’s execution will be the first in Oklahoma following the Supreme Court decision.
Oklahoma became the epicenter [JURIST report] of the lethal injection drug debate last year after the death of Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate who died of an apparent heart attack minutes after doctors called off a failed attempt to execute him. Use of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue throughout the US and internationally. In May Nebraska lawmakers overrode [JURIST report] Governor Pete Ricketts’sveto on repealing the death penalty. In April the Tennessee Supreme Court [official website] had postponed the execution [JURIST report] of four inmates on death row while it determines whether current protocols are constitutional, effectively halting all executions in the state. Also in April the Delaware Senate voted to repeal the death penalty [JURIST report], but the legislation includes an exemption for the 15 inmates currently on Delaware’s death row. In March Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill [JURIST report] to restore the firing squad as a method of execution, making Utah one of the only states with that option.