Federal judge says Oklahoma death penalty suit can proceed

A federal judge in Oklahoma City ruled Wednesday a lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection protocols can proceed to trial, making it likely Oklahoma’s de facto moratorium on executions will extend into a seventh year.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot agreed in his order to consider at trial whether Oklahoma’s current three-drug protocol risks subjecting inmates to unconstitutional pain and suffering.

“Plaintiffs are pleased that the court agreed that the merits of their Eighth Amendment claim need to be heard in a full trial,” said assistant federal public defender Dale Baich, who represents some of the 32 death row inmates who are plaintiffs in the case. “We look forward to presenting our evidence in court.”

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