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In Glossip v. Gross 14-7955 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), ordered a Stay of Execution in Oklahoma because  the state does not following the protocol for the lethal injection. The order really means SCOTUS continued the execution of three people until they revisit the case on the merits in April 2015.

The Supreme Court has recognized a three drug cocktail that does not violate the 8th Amendment rule against cruel and unusual punishment for executions in murder cases where the sentence is the death penalty. The first drug in the approved cocktail puts the person to sleep while the other two drugs kill. If the state uses this cocktail, the state may execute the person.

However, the drug manufacturers who make the first drug have stopped selling it states who use it in lethal injections. Oklahoma is out of stock, so they have tried a new drug to substitute for the sleeping agent. SCOTUS stayed the execution so they can decide whether the substituted drug is ok. Both sides came up with arguments to say why the new drug should or should not be allowed to substitute for the old drug. The experts are divided as to whether the drug should be used.

In the mean time, the defendants with murder convictions, who have scheduled executions in Oklahoma had their executions stayed until the state can show the new drug is a good substitute for the old drug. There is also going to be a fight over who has to show the substituted drug is ok or bad. Does the prisoner or the government have the burden? The issue on the burdens may be the most interesting part of the case.

Author: Brian Zeiger
Brian Zeiger

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.