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Drummond files U.S. Supreme Court brief seeking to halt Glossip execution

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 23, 2024) –Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court detailing why the execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip should be halted and his conviction remanded back to district court.

The brief points to the “remarkable and remarkably flawed decision” by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) in April 2023 to uphold Glossip’s conviction and death sentence for the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese despite the State’s confession of prosecutorial misconduct. Specifically, Drummond said Glossip’s prosecutors committed a Brady violation by not sharing potentially exculpatory evidence with the defendant and violated Napue by knowingly allowing false testimony that prevented Glossip from receiving due process.

By dismissing this extraordinary confession by the State, Drummond contends, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals engaged in a “flawed whitewashing of federal constitutional violations.”

The case against Glossip hinged on testimony by the man who bludgeoned to death Barry Van Treese in 1997 but said Glossip – who admitted to helping cover up the murder – paid him to kill. Both men worked at the Oklahoma City motel owned by Van Treese. In exchange for the testimony, the star witness and admitted murderer was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while Glossip received a death sentence.

In court testimony, this witness falsely claimed he was not receiving medical treatment for mental issues when prosecutors knew he had been prescribed lithium for a psychiatric condition. Evidence indicates prosecutors knew the testimony was a lie but allowed it to stand.

Today’s filing notes that the OCCA instead suggested “that Glossip somehow was aware of the withheld evidence during his trial and that the critical testimony was not actually ‘false’ because the witness was ‘more than likely in denial of his mental health disorders,’” a conclusion that the brief suggests was reached by “gold-medal doctrinal gymnastics.”

“Dismissing violations of those constitutional bedrocks on the ground that suitably skeptical and intrepid defense counsel should have assumed the government was concealing and prevaricating and gotten to the truth anyways eviscerates those bedrock precedents,” states the filing. “And the notion that a reasonable factfinder would have ignored evidence that the prosecution’s star witness was suffering from a serious mental illness and committed perjury is equally unfathomable.”

The Attorney General’s Office is being represented before the high court by Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under the presidential administration of George W. Bush.

Glossip was convicted of first-degree murder in 1998. The OCCA later overturned the conviction for ineffective assistance of counsel, but he was again convicted and sentenced to death at a 2004 retrial, when the star witness provided false testimony.

With the case long mired in controversy, Drummond began seeking answers shortly after taking office. He learned that the State had withheld specific materials from Glossip’s defense team. The Attorney General quickly provided access to these items, referred to as “Box 8,” and appointed an independent counsel to review the case.

Read the filing at