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On day of 'botched' execution, state refused to produce lethal injection documents

A letter sent to Fred Hodara on Oct. 28 says it either has no records on its lethal injection drugs or that they're lawfully secret.
A letter sent to Fred Hodara by the state on Oct. 28 says it either has no records for its lethal injection drugs or that they're lawfully secret.

Much focus has been placed on the drugs Oklahoma used in the Oct. 28 execution of John Marion Grant. But what drugs were actually used is unknown since the Oklahoma Department of Corrections continues to refuse to produce records.

Just before Grant’s execution, a conference was held with district Judge Anthony Bonner as part of a lawsuit filed by retired New York attorney Fred Hodara. Hodara says DOC is violating Oklahoma’s Open Records Act by failing to produce documents.

Hodara’s attorney, Brette Peña, said since a stay was already in place, Bonner didn’t issue one.

The existing stay was lifted by the Supreme Court of the United States about two hours before Grant's scheduled execution.

“Mr. Grant was executed and the execution was botched, which just further underscores the need for transparency around Oklahoma’s lethal injection practices,” said Peña.

The state also gave a written response to Hodara on Oct. 28 saying any records it might have are protected under an Oklahoma law.

That law protects the names of anyone who participates in executions or who supplies drugs for executions, saying their identities “shall be confidential and shall not be subject to discovery in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

Hodara isn’t seeking names, though, Peña said, but details around the lethal injection drugs.

“The identity of the drugs, any quality testing of the drugs, quantities of the drugs, expiration dates: things that are just clearly not covered by this statute,” said Peña.

Bonner set a Nov. 30 hearing for the case. Julius Jones is set to be executed Nov. 18.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.