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Supreme Court Agrees To Review Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Case

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip deserves a new trial in light of newly disclosed evidence and an extraordinary concession from the state’s Republican attorney general. Glossip was convicted in 1998 of arranging the death of his employer, the owner of a motel in Oklahoma City. Two independent investigations have cast doubt on his guilt, and he has attracted support from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and state legislators from both political parties, the New York Times reports. The state’s attorney general, Gentner Drummond, told the high court that the state had “come to the difficult but essential conclusion that Glossip’s capital conviction is unsustainable and a new trial imperative.” He added, “The injustice of allowing a capital sentence to be carried out where the conviction was occasioned by the government’s own admitted failings would be nigh unfathomable.”


Lawyers call such statements “confessions of error,” and courts ordinarily give them great weight. In May, the Supreme Court halted Glossip’s execution while the justices considered whether to hear his appeal. The lead lawyer representing the state was Paul Clement, who was solicitor general in the administration of George W. Bush and is a star of the Supreme Court bar, having argued more than 100 cases before the justices. The court’s conservative majority is generally skeptical of appeals from death row inmates, seeming to view them as products of litigation gamesmanship meant to delay executions. Last January, however, the court gave Areli Escobar, a death row inmate in Texas, a new chance to challenge his conviction in light of a district attorney’s confession of error after the discovery of flawed DNA evidence. Glossip, 60, was convicted based mainly on the testimony of one witness.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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