Oklahoma House resolution seeks to impeach state supreme court over its stay in death penalty case

April 24th, 2014 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

I mentioned yesterday that the recent order by the Oklahoma Supreme Court staying an execution had riled members of the legislature and the state’s governor who refused to acknowledge the order. According to media reports that stay has now been lifted however there is an effort underway to impeach the 5 justice majority that ordered the stay (h/t Gavel Grab for the pointer).

HR 1059 has now been introduced and is replicated below:

A Resolution calling for impeachment of certain Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court pursuant to Section 1 of Article VIII of the Oklahoma Constitution.
WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has rendered an opinion (“Opinion”) which stays the execution of two persons who were scheduled to be executed based on their respective convictions of crimes for which capital punishment was and is authorized; and
WHEREAS, the stays of execution were issued because of the judicial Opinion in Case No. 112,741 (consolidated with Case No. 112,764) in which five Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court concurred per curiam; and
WHEREAS, neither the ability for convicted persons to use the court system to delay their execution based upon unsupportable arguments regarding constitutional rights to know about the specific chemicals to be used in carrying out the sentence of death nor the use of the court system to delay execution based upon unsupportable arguments related to the availability of such chemicals should be the basis of a stay of execution; and
WHEREAS, the Opinion sets a troublesome precedent regarding the exercise of what clearly is the exclusive jurisdiction by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in cases of this nature; and
WHEREAS, the Justices who have agreed to the majority Opinion have exercised jurisdiction in a matter properly decided only by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals; and
WHEREAS, Justice Steven Taylor, Justice James Winchester, Justice James Edmondson, and Justice Noma Gurich joined in a dissenting opinion which correctly analyzed the Constitutional issues applicable to the questions before the Oklahoma Supreme Court and in which those Justices correctly concluded that: “The Appellants have maneuvered this Court right where they set out to put us and that is, for the first time in this Court’s relevant history, in the middle of a death penalty appeal. We have never been here before and we have no jurisdiction to be here now.”; and
WHEREAS, the Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma; and
WHEREAS, the Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court who authored or supported the majority Opinion in the case have violated their oaths of office based upon issuing a stay of execution in a criminal case for which the jurisdiction ought to have been vested exclusively with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals; and
WHEREAS, the rendition of the Opinion should be considered a violation of the oath of office because it constitutes a willful neglect of duty and incompetence within the meaning of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Oklahoma Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the power of impeachment is reserved to the Oklahoma House of Representatives pursuant to Section 1 of Article VIII of the Oklahoma Constitution.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 2ND SESSION OF THE 54TH OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE: THAT Chief Justice Tom Colbert, Vice – Chief Justice John Reif, Justice Yvonne Kauger, Justice Joseph Watt and Justice Doug Combs be impeached pursuant to Section 1 of Article VIII of the Oklahoma Constitution as a result of having violated their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma.

8 comments

  1. Gary Stolp says:

    About time judges were taken to task for bad decisions (Not just in Oklahoma courts). Too much legislating is being done from the bench. Too many decisions from the bench are in disregard for the will of the people. We have 3 branches of government for a reason. Judges should not be elected for life. Too many judges get the little tin god attitude in their decisions.

  2. ThomadD says:

    This was only a “bad” decision in the same manner that bank robbery is a “bad” career choice.

    The justices weren’t following the law, they were making themselves the law.