Capital Punishment
6:47 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Oklahoma "Botched Execution" and Georgia's Lethal Injection Secrecy Law

Opponents of a state law that shields the identity of the manufacturer of Georgia’s lethal injection drug may have another incident to cite in challenging the law.

Oklahoma officials say a “botched” execution occurred Tuesday, April 29.

In Georgia, death row inmate Warren Lee Hill, Jr Hill’s defense objected to the lethal injection because of a state law that protects the drug maker’s identity.

Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett appeared to suffer.

According to reports, after the lethal injection was administered, Lockett began to shake uncontrollably and began to seizure.

The execution was stopped, but officials say Lockett later died from a heart attack.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued a  stay of execution for another and is calling for a review of how and why Lockett's execution went terribly wrong.

Georgia State University constitutional law professor Lauren Lucas says this could be a turning point surrounding the controversy.

Georgia State University constitutional law professor Lauren Lucas says the Oklahoma botched execution could be a turning point and force the United States Supreme Court to revisit challenges regarding states secrecy execution drug laws.
Credit Georgia State University

“The courts and the United States Supreme Court, in particular, have been fairly hesitant to impose really specific requirements on execution protocols or to require additional measures that might lower the risks of botched procedures like the one that we saw in Oklahoma.”

In Georgia, death row inmate Warren Lee Hill’s attorneys are awaiting a ruling.

They say Georgia’s execution drug secrecy law violates the eighth amendment of the U.S constitution.

And that says WABE legal analyst Page Pate, is because it’s not known where the drugs are coming from.

“These executions are basically experiments, because no one, even the doctors that are involved in performing them, the executioners, and the states, everyone in the process knows is unaware of what’s going to happen.  And you don’t find out there’s a problem, until you have the problem and that’s what happened last night in Oklahoma.”

Pate says Georgia officials need to pay close attention to Oklahoma.

“Then I think that creates some momentum for death penalty opponents to argue that the process now has become cruel and unusual.”

In an email, a Georgia Department of Corrections told WABE, any drugs the department will use in the lethal injection process will be obtained from an appropriately regulated and licensed source.

Complete statement from Georgia Department of Corrections.

1)      The Department is confident in its ability to carry out future court ordered executions in a professional manner.

2)      Any drugs the Department will use in the lethal injection process will be obtained from an appropriately regulated and licensed source.