Okay, we’re aware that there is a national shortage of thiopental sodium, one of the three drugs legally okayed to be used in execution by lethal injection. The result has been delaying some executions. In at least one instance, an execution kept to the calendar as the needed drug was purchased from an overseas supplier (not FDA-approved) (Arizona’s execution of Jeffrey Landrigan using a British product).
Over in Oklahoma, they’re got a different take on things, apparently. Because in Oklahoma, news is that they are considering substituting pentobarbital for thiopental sodium — and in case you don’t recognize that drug, pentobarbital is the drug that vets have been using for years, to put down beloved family pets.
So, Oklahoma appears to be answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is any difference between euthanizing animals and executing human beings. Next question, will Oklahoma ask its vets to oversee the execution process since doctors are prohibited by their ethical oaths from doing so?
The issue will be brought before federal judge Stephen Friot of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, in a hearing set in Oklahoma City on November 19, 2010, on whether or not Oklahoma can substitute pentobarbital for thiopental sodium. Judge Friot has been on this federal bench since 2001, appointed by President George W. Bush to the federal bench after practicing law for almost 30 years.
Within thirty days of this hearing, on December 16, 2010, John David Duty is scheduled to be executed by the State of Oklahoma. If Oklahoma’s request is granted, Mr. Duty may will be the first man executed in this country through the use of pentobarbital.
Here’s a question for the bench and bar’s consideration: with the U.S. Supreme Court’s approval of Arizona’s overseas supplier, then why isn’t Oklahoma following Arizona’s precedent? Can’t an argument be made that this is exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court was suggesting be done in view of the drug shortage?