Stony the Road: The Road to Execution

panelists from Stony the Road lecture series

Presented by OCU Law Diversity Council

This spring, OCU Law and the OCU Law Diversity Council hosted the third annual Stony the Road lecture series. The panel of experts gathered to shed light on Oklahoma’s capital punishment legal process and the path of a capital case/defendant from the time of charging through actual execution.

The Road to Execution topic was chosen because in October of 2021, after a botched execution, an execution using an unauthorized drug, and a moratorium on executions that lasted almost seven years, the State of Oklahoma resumed executions of persons on death row who have exhausted their appeals and been denied clemency.

The panel was made up of legal experts with vast experience in the death penalty realm in Oklahoma, including former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, current Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna, First Assistant Federal Public Defender Emma Rolls, and Oklahoma Innocence Project Legal Director (and former Oklahoma County Appellate Public Defender) Andrea Miller.

The panel discussed the filing of a bill of particulars, the state and federal appellate process after a defendant is sentenced to death (including federal habeas corpus), the clemency process, and the days leading up to an actual execution in Oklahoma.

The event also recognized the members of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, on the sixth anniversary of the commission’s March 2017 publication, The Report of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, in which the eleven-member, bipartisan commission unanimously recommended that Oklahoma’s “current moratorium on the death penalty be extended until significant reforms have been accomplished.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Maria Kolar, who has worked on capital appeals as a federal law clerk, a law clerk for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and as an attorney for the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System. Professor Kolar now writes and teaches in the areas of Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, and Capital Punishment at OCU School of Law.