Sen. Ralph Shortey is urging the Oklahoma House of Representatives to take up articles of impeachment filed by Rep. Mike Christian against the five Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court who voted last week to stay the executions of two death row inmates.
Shortey said the justices have abdicated their role as impartial interpreters of the law, allowing the Court to be successfully manipulated by death penalty activists.
“This decision defies the law, established precedent, and the will of a broad majority of Oklahomans to see justice handed down to those who prey upon the weak and innocent,” said Shortey, R-Oklahoma City. “Activists have manipulated the Court into implementing their vision of social justice at the expense of common-sense justice and long-standing law. In doing so, they have denied closure to the families who lost a teenage girl and an 11 month-old baby in brutal murders.”
In 1999, Clayton Lockett bound 19 year-old Stephanie Neiman of Perry with duct tape and forced her to watch as his accomplice dug her grave. He then ordered his accomplice to bury her alive after the two gun shots he fired into her body did not kill her. Charles Walker in 1997 raped and murdered his girlfriend’s 11 month-old baby, Adrianna Waller.
Legal counsel for the two inmates has challenged laws allowing the state to withhold the source of its execution drugs, in order to protect the inmates from the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment.
“Simply put, they have chosen to place the Court where it has never been before because they find the arguments of death penalty activists more compelling than the idea of justice shared by most Oklahomans,” Shortey said. “This is the most clear-cut instance of judicial activism you could possibly imagine.”
“This is a case of our state’s judges inserting their personal biases and political opinions into the equation,” said Rep. Christian, R-Oklahoma City. “According to Oklahoma State Statute, Title 51, Chapter 2, Section 51, it states: ‘The governor and other elective state officers, including justices of the Supreme Court, shall be liable and subject to impeachment for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office.’ This situation is a clear violation of that statute, as willful neglect of duty and incompetency has occurred.”
Christian said it is his duty as a member of the House of Representatives to act on behalf of the state’s citizens if matters like this arise.
“As a member of the House, I’m entrusted with being a voice for the people of this state,” Christian said. “Right now, we face a situation where our state’s judicial branch has knowingly violated its trust with the people and they must be held accountable for their dereliction of duty. And if this measure passes, these five judges will have their day in court to answer for their faulty decisions. It’s unfortunate we’re at this point, but now that we are here we must enforce our state’s system of checks and balances to get our judicial branch under control to reverse these terrible decisions.”