Death Row Inmate Seeks Stay of Execution, Citing Oklahoma Fiasco

HOUSTON (CN) - A week away from his execution date, an inmate sued Texas, demanding disclosure of its lethal injection protocol, and citing Oklahoma's recent death chamber disaster.

Robert James Campbell sued Texas prison director Brad Livingston and other prison officials in Federal Court.

Campbell, 41, is to be executed on May 13 for the 1991 rape and murder of a bank teller in Houston.

Campbell's 23-page complaint includes an account of Oklahoma's botched April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett.

Lockett breathed heavily, writhed and clenched his teeth after he was injected with drugs; it took him 30 minutes to die - of a heart attack.

Oklahoma prison director Robert Patton then called off the execution of the man scheduled to be executed after Lockett.

Campbell says that in the weeks before Lockett's execution, Oklahoma refused to disclose information to Lockett's attorneys about the drugs, and the source of drugs, to be used to execute him.

"Texas has likewise recently announced that they too intend to pursue a path of secrecy, and refuse to disclose the source of the drugs with which they intend to carry out Mr. Campbell's execution," the complaint states.

"The possible causes of Mr. Lockett's botched execution are all issues that have been, are, or could be problematic in Texas. There is a substantial risk that Mr. Campbell's execution could be as horrific as Mr. Lockett's."

Campbell says Texas plans to execute him using compounded pentobarbital.

If the court does not intervene, Campbell will be the eighth person executed in Texas this year with a heavy dose of pentobarbital, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

"Just last month, Texas decided to reverse its prior practice and flout the existing opinions of the attorney general to keep secret vital information about the drugs used to carry out executions," Campbell says in the complaint.

"Thus, the only information defendants have disclosed to Mr. Campbell is the July 2012 Execution Protocol, and figures purporting to reflect the results of testing performed on the compounded pentobarbital TDCJ intends to use to carry out his execution."

Though Texas has used only pentobarbital in its other 2014 executions, Campbell says he fears the state could change its protocol at the last minute.

"Texas is in fact in possession of at least two of the three drugs used in the attempted execution of Mr. Lockett: midazolam and potassium chloride," the complaint states.

"If defendants prevail in their quest for secrecy, Texas can decide to change protocol without notice to Mr. Campbell or disclosure to the public, and could decide to use any 'lethal substance or substances' in their possession, including midazolam and potassium chloride (two of the three drugs used in Mr. Lockett's attempted execution)." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Campbell wants the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ordered to disclose immediately the source of the drugs it intends to kill him with, the date of manufacture, lot numbers and data on any testing of the drugs.

He also seeks an injunction staying his execution until Texas can ensure it will not violate his Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

He is represented by Philadelphia attorney Maurie Levin, Jonathan Ross with Susman Godfrey of Houston, and Northwestern University legal professor Robert Owen. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.