Saying Oklahoma’s highest court exceeded its authority in granting stays to two inmates, Gov. Mary Fallin issued a seven-day stay of execution for one of them, reports the Tulsa World. Fallin’s office said the state plans to execute both inmates — Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner — on the same day, April 29. Both executions were ordered stayed indefinitely by the state Supreme Court on Monday while it considers appeals of a lower court’s ruling that the state’s execution-secrecy law is unconstitutional.
“While I have great respect for the honorable men and women of the Supreme Court, this attempted stay of execution is outside the constitutional authority of that body,” Fallin said. Under the state’s constitution, the Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s highest court for criminal cases. The Supreme Court generally has jurisdiction over civil matters, including whether state laws are constitutional. The Supreme Court has never issued an execution stay in the past, but the court noted that it has “sole power” to determine which court has jurisdiction to issue a stay. Madeline Cohen, an assistant federal public defender who has represented Warner, said she believes that Fallin “does not have the authority to override the Supreme Court.”