On May 31, 2006, Eric Allen Patton, a death-sentenced inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Patton complained to the ...
read more >
On May 31, 2006, Eric Allen Patton, a death-sentenced inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Patton complained to the Court that the defendants had been misrepresenting the lethal injection process as a peaceful way to induce death, and that in reality, lethal injection was an excrutiatingly painful process, described by witnesses as "overwhelming, stunning, and disturbing." Patton alleged that the reason lethal injection was so painful was because the state used an "ultrashort-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent," and he claimed that the anesthesia used during the lethal injection process would wear off, allowing him to feel torturous pain that he could not express due to the use of the paralytic agent, which would leave him conscious but unable to move or breathe. He asked the Court to enjoin the defendants from using their lethal injection protocol during his execution, and to declare that their protocol was unconstitutional.
On July 13, 2006, the defendants asked the District Court to dismiss Patton's claim, arguing that he had already brought this same claim in a previous lawsuit, and that he was therefore barred from relitigating the issue. On August 4, 2006, the District Court (Judge Stephen P. Friot) refused to dismiss the case and denied the defendants' motion, finding that the plaintiff's previous lawsuit was different enough to allow him to bring this lawsuit separately.
Patton, who was scheduled to be executed on August 29, 2006, asked the District Court to stay his execution while the lawsuit was progressing. The District Court refused to grant the stay of execution or the injunction that he'd asked for, and he appealed. On August 25, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Judges Robert Harlan Henry, Mary Beck Briscoe, and Terrence L. O'Brien) affirmed the District Court's decision. The Tenth Circuit denied Patton's request to stay his execution, finding that he had unnecessarily delayed bringing this complaint. Patton v. Jones, 193 Fed.Appx. 785 (10th Cir. Aug 25, 2006).
On August 29, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiff's request to hear the case. Patton v. Jones, 165 L.Ed.2d 1008 (2006). Later that day, Eric Allen Patton was executed by lethal injection. The next day, the District Court closed the case.Kristen Sagar - 09/11/2007