Oklahoma Death Row Prisoner Richard Glossip Files to Void an Unjust Clemency Hearing – Execution Days Away

By Cheyenne Galloway

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With his execution date just days away, Richard Glossip, an Oklahoma death row prisoner for 25 years, challenged the Oklahoma County District Court Tuesday with a lawsuit requesting “to null and void the clemency hearing” that took place on April 26, according to his defense team.

Glossip was convicted of murder although his defense team insists Justin Sneed is the actual perpetrator. But Sneed, to avoid the death penalty, said Glossip asked him to kill his boss, claims the defense.

Glossip’s initial clemency request fell one vote shy of the majority needed to advocate clemency to the Oklahoma governor under Oklahoma Constitutional law because only four out of five Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board (OPPB) members were present for the hearing. The vote was 2-2.

The defense insists that according to the Oklahoma constitution, Glossip “is afforded a constitutional Clemency Hearing conducted by five impartial appointed or duly acting/substitute Members of the OPPD secured pursuant to revisions to 57 O.S. & 332.2 of the Oklahoma Statutes and Section 515 of the OAC or other statutory provisions under Oklahoma law. (Amended Petition p.13).”

But, argues the defense, the OPPD failed to replace the absent board member to ensure a complete five-member board and a just hearing under the Oklahoma Constitution.

And, the defense said in its complaint, because of the OPPD’s unreliability, Glossip is scheduled for execution May 18, even though dozens of state lawmakers, and even the state attorney general, want the execution stopped.

The defense, in a statement, contends that Glossip’s lawsuit reveals the injustices of the Oklahoma County District Court, and OPPD’s inability to provide all five members for the defendant’s clemency hearing denies him his constitutional right to due process.

“The State of Oklahoma has already agreed that Richard Glossip was denied a fair trial and, to add further insult to his constitutional rights, he has now been denied a fair clemency hearing,” said Glossip’s attorney, Don Knight.

Knight added, “The Board’s split decision is precisely the outcome this lawsuit sought to avoid, and it underscores the grave injustice of allowing Rich’s execution to proceed without a proper clemency hearing before a fully constituted Board.”

The defense explained the missing OPPB member, Richard Smothermon, is married to the lead prosecutor in Glossip’s case, “a prosecution riddled with misconduct claims that have emerged only in recent months from belated disclosures by the State.”

The defense agreed Smothermon properly recused himself due to this clear conflict of interest, but the split 2-2 vote at Glossip’s clemency hearing resulted in a denial that precludes Governor Kevin Stitt from granting clemency.

The lawsuit argues the absence of any mechanism to replace the conflicted Board member denies Glossip due process by increasing his burden of persuasion to a short-handed Board.

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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