The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday affirmed the dismissal [order, PDF] of a case involving the 2014 botched execution [JURIST report] of Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate in Oklahoma. Lockett’s brother filed suit against the state of Oklahoma [JURIST report], through named state officials, in October 2014. The case was dismissed due to qualified-immunity defenses from Governor Mary Fallin [official website], Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton and Warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Anita Trammell. The Tenth Circuit determined, as did District Judge Joe Heaton [profile] of the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma [official website], that Lockett’s brother did not establish in any of his claims that the state officials violated clearly established law, so the qualified immunity defense was applicable [AP report].
Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. Earlier this month the legal status of the death penalty was upheld [JURIST report] by state referendum in Oklahoma, Nebraska and California. In September executions in Oklahoma were put on a two-year hiatus so Oklahoma can reevaluate its lethal injection procedures [JURIST report] following Lockett’s botched execution and several drug mix-ups in the past two years. In May the US Supreme Court [official website] upheld a stay [JURIST report] of execution for Alabama inmate Vernon Madison. A few days before that a Miami judge ruled [JURIST report] that Florida’s revamped death penalty law is unconstitutional because it does not require a unanimous agreement among jurors to approve executions. In April Virginia’s General Assembly voted [JURIST report] to keep secret the identities of suppliers of lethal injection drugs.