Lawsuit filed against Okla. DOC over capital punishment information

Records request asked for information regarding the state's lethal injection protocol


By Graham Lee Brewer
The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — An Oklahoma City attorney is suing the state Corrections Department on behalf of a Pennsylvania woman for not responding to an open records request.

Megan McCracken, counsel at the Berkeley Law School's Death Penalty Clinic, submitted a records request to the department Jan. 1 requesting information regarding the state's lethal injection protocol.

The request asks for, among other things, drug chain of custody documents, correspondences with pharmacies, and any records or documents regarding the manufacturers and distributors of any drugs used for the purpose of execution.

Oklahoma became a larger part of the national debate on the use of pentobarbital, a sedative more commonly used on animals, in executions after both a Tulsa-based compounding pharmacy was alleged to have been providing the drug to the state of Missouri to carry out the death penalty and an Oklahoma death row inmate's last words suggested to some he felt pain while receiving his lethal injection.

Oklahoma law requires departments respond promptly for a request for records, said Gary Peterson, McCracken's lawyer. They gave the State Corrections Department one month to respond but never heard back.

“It's not only against the law, it's also just rude,” said Peterson.

This is at least the fourth active open records lawsuit against the state, said Joey Senat, an Oklahoma State University professor and open government expert. Three other records lawsuits have been filed against the governor's office.

Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said it appears the department did not receive the Jan. 1 request, but the department is responding to two similar requests from McCracken made after that date.

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