The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma disturbed witnesses and stirred the nation: A convicted murderer, deemed unconscious, began twitching and convulsing on the gurney, only able to raise his head.
After 43 minutes of apparent anguish, the man died of a heart attack. Lockett’s bungled execution led Oklahoma to reconsider its lethal-injection protocols, and spurred Lockett’s brother to file suit — alleging torture and human medical experimentation, among other claims.
In a recent decision, a federal appeals court upheld the 2015 decision to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the lethal-injection process did not qualify as cruel and inhumane, reported the Washington Post. What took place during the execution, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit held, was a sort of “’innocent misadventure’” or “’isolated mishap.’”
The judges acknowledged that Lockett suffered during the procedure. But citing previous Supreme Court death-penalty opinions, Judge Gregory A. Phillips, writing for the court, stated that simply “’because an execution method may result in pain, either by accident or as an inescapable consequence of death, does not establish the sort of objectively intolerable risk of harm that qualifies as cruel and unusual.’”
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