An Oklahoma lawmaker is trying to impeach state Supreme Court justices who delayed the execution of two death-row inmates, saying their decision shows “incompetence” and “personal bias” while violating their oath of office.
The high court has now lifted the delay so inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner are scheduled to die Tuesday by lethal injection.
However, Republican state Rep. Mike Christian, who drafted legislation to impeach the five justices who last week granted the stay, still thinks their decision “constitutes a willful neglect of duty and incompetence.”
Christian told FoxNews.com on Monday he has filed articles of impeachment and he intends to discuss with fellow members of the House leadership team how to proceed.
“Lots of [lawmakers] are risk adverse, but I need to do what’s right,” he said. “Voters didn’t send me to the state capitol to sit on my hands.”
In the 5-4 decision, the justices delayed the execution at the request of Lockett and Warner, who filed a civil suit seeking to know the source of the chemicals that would be used in the injection.
The court ruled a day later that the inmates were not entitled to know the source.
Still, the court system should not be used to delay an execution when the basis of the appellants’ case is “unsupportable arguments related to the availability of such chemicals,” Christian argued.
Moreover, the high court overstepped its legal authority because under the state constitution the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals handles only criminal matters while the Supreme Court handles only civil cases, critics said.
“This is a case of our state’s judges inserting their personal biases and political opinions into the equation,” said Christian, a former Oklahoma state trooper.
Still, the civil suit put the state’s two highest courts in a difficult situation, considering the Oklahoma constitution says only the Supreme Court handles civil cases.
In fact, the four dissenting judges acknowledged such a dilemma.
“The appellants have maneuvered this court right where they set out to put us. And that is, for the first time in this court’s relevant history, in the middle of a death penalty appeal,” they wrote in their opinion. “We have never been here before. …”
The attorney general's office has said it has given the inmates all of the information that's legally required. And the appeals court late last week denied their request to find that the high court ruled in error.
Lockett, 38, was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old female with a sawed-off shotgun, then watching as two accomplices buried her alive in 1999. Warner, 46, was found guilty of raping and killing his roommate's 11-month-old child in 1997.
Gov. Mary Fallon, a Republican, halted Lockett’s execution to ensure he wouldn’t be put to death before his day in court. But she also complained that the high court strayed from the constitutional mandate on handling only civil matters when it issued its own order stopping executions over the drug question.
She now says the final ruling “shows our legal system works” and that the state’s first double execution in nearly 80 years will indeed take place.
"The defendants had their day in court,” Fallon said. “The court has made a decision. Two men that do not contest their guilt in heinous murders will now face justice, and the families and friends of their victims will now have closure."
However, Fallon did not respond to an inquiry Monday about whether she will support impeachment proceedings, which Christian said hasn’t happened in Oklahoma in about 47 years.
Defense attorney Seth Day said the basis for the civil case is the public has no way of knowing whether the execution will be carried out in a "constitutional and humane manner," unless it knows the source of the chemicals.
Day could not be reached Monday to learn whether he will try to file any other appeal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.