Case: Oken v. Sizer

8:04-cv-01830 | U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Filed Date: June 14, 2004

Closed Date: 2004

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On June 14, 2004, Steven Howard Oken, a death-sentenced inmate of the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore, Maryland filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Maryland Department of Correction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Oken was scheduled to be put to death some day during the week of June 14-18, 2004 by lethal injection of three chemicals: Thiopental, Pancurium Bromide, and Potassium Chloride. He objected to this particular combination …

On June 14, 2004, Steven Howard Oken, a death-sentenced inmate of the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore, Maryland filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Maryland Department of Correction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Oken was scheduled to be put to death some day during the week of June 14-18, 2004 by lethal injection of three chemicals: Thiopental, Pancurium Bromide, and Potassium Chloride. He objected to this particular combination of chemicals because he claimed that the way the defendants administered them would cause him to consciously suffer an excrutiatingly painful and protracted death. Specifically, Oken feared that because Thiopental was only supposed to work as a sedative for a few minutes, he would suffocate to death due to the paralyzing effects of the other two drugs, all the while feeling excrutiating pain caused by the extremely painful burning sensation that potassium chloride causes as it courses through the body. Due to these concerns, Oken asked the District Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction barring the defendants from executing him in the way they intended.

On the same day that the complaint was filed, the District Court held a hearing to consider Oken's request for a stay of execution, and the next day, the court (Judge Peter J. Messitte) issued an opinion staying the execution until the court had time to further consider the case. The court noted that it was troubled by the fact that the plaintiff had never been provided with a complete copy of the defendants' newly developed execution protocol, and that the information they had provided to him had been provided at the last minute, leaving him little time to examine it with his attorneys. Oken v. Sizer, 321 F.Supp.2d 658 (D.Md. 2004).

The defendants appealed the District Court's decision to stay the execution, and on June 16, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit refused to overturn the District Court's decision. The defendants requested review by the U.S. Supreme Court, and on the same day, the Supreme Court vacated the stay of execution without writing an opinion as to why. Oken v. Sizer, 542 U.S. 916 (2004).

On June 17, 2004, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint in the District Court, arguing that the cut-down procedure that the defendants were likely to use during his execution would violate his rights under the Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. He argued that they were likely to need to use a cut-down procedure because his long history of drug use would otherwise make it very difficult to obtain access to his veins during the lethal injection procedure. On the same day, the District Court (Judge Messitte) issued a final order of judgment denying the relief sought under the amended complaint, denying the motion to stay, and dismissing the case. The court reasoned that the plaintiff had not established that any of the execution procedures amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his civil rights.

Oken appealed the District Court's dismissal of the case, and on the same day, the Fourth Circuit denied his motion for temporary injunction and affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the case. He filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, and on the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition and declined to stay his execution.

Steven Oken was executed on June 17, 2004 by lethal injection.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (9/5/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Breyer, Stephen Gerald (District of Columbia)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Gregory, Roger L. (Virginia)

Messitte, Peter Jo (Maryland)

Michael, M. Blane (South Carolina)

Stevens, John Paul (District of Columbia)

Traxler, William Byrd Jr. (South Carolina)

Wilkinson, J. Harvie III (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barron , David M (South Carolina)

Bennett, Fred Warren (Maryland)

Judge(s)

Breyer, Stephen Gerald (District of Columbia)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Gregory, Roger L. (Virginia)

Messitte, Peter Jo (Maryland)

Michael, M. Blane (South Carolina)

Stevens, John Paul (District of Columbia)

Traxler, William Byrd Jr. (South Carolina)

Wilkinson, J. Harvie III (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barron , David M (South Carolina)

Bennett, Fred Warren (Maryland)

Lawlor, Michael Edward (Maryland)

Nickerson, Jerome Howard (Maryland)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bosse, Ann N (Maryland)

Curran, John Joseph Jr. (Maryland)

Kennedy, David P. (Maryland)

Oakley, Scott S (Maryland)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

8:04-cv-01830

Docket (PACER)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

Docket
4

8:04-cv-01830

Defendants' Opposition to Request for Stay of Execution, and Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
8

8:04-cv-01830

Opinion

321 F.Supp.2d 658

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Order/Opinion
4-1

8:04-cv-01830

Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Opposition to Request for Stay of Execution and Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
1-1

8:04-cv-01830

Memorandum of Law in Support of Complaint

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
1

8:04-cv-01830

Complaint

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Complaint

03-10808

03-01011

Order Denying Certiorari

Supreme Court of the United States

542 U.S. 917

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

Order/Opinion

04-00017

Order

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

Order/Opinion

03-01023

Order in Pending Case [Granting Application to Vacate the Stay of Execution]

Supreme Court of the United States

542 U.S. 916

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

Order/Opinion
21

8:04-cv-01830

Request for Declaratory Judgment, Temporary Injunction and Citation of Correct Standard of Proof

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 20, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against Gary Hornbaker, Frank C. Sizer Jr., Unknown Executioners, William Williams filed by Steven Howard OkenAttachments: (1) Memorandum in Support of Complaint (2) Civil Cover Sheet (3) Exhibit List Volume 1 (4) Exhibit 1 Volume 1 (5) Exhibit 2 Volume 1 (6) Exhibit 3 Volume 1 (7) Exhibit 4 Volume 1 (8) Exhibit 5 Volume 1 (9) Exhibit 6 Volume 1 (10) Exhibit 7 Volume 1 (11) Exhibit 8 Volume 1 (12) Exhibit 9 Volume 1 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit (13) Errata 10 Volume 1 (14) Exhibit 11 Volume 1 (15) Exhibit 12 Volume 1 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit (16) Exhibit 13 Volume 1 (17) Exhibit 14 Volume 1 (18) Exhibit 15 Volume 1 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit (19) Exhibit 16 Volume 1 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit (20) Exhibit 17 Volume 1 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit (21) Exhibit 18 Volume 1 (22) Exhibit 19 Volume 1 (23) Exhibit 20 Volume 1)(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

2

EXHIBITS (Volume 2) to Complaint by Steven Howard Oken(Attachments: (1) Exhibit 1 Volume 2 (2) Exhibit 2 Volume 2 (3) Exhibit 3 Volume 2 (4) Exhibit 4 Volume 2 (5) Exhibit 5 Volume 2 (6) Exhibit 6 Volume 2 (7) Exhibit 7 Volume 2 (8) Exhibit 8 Volume 2 (9) Exhibit 9 Volume 2 Notice of Lengthy Exhibit)(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

3

MOTION for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis by Steven Howard Oken (Attachments: (1) Affidavit in Support of Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis)(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

4

Defendants' Opposition to Request for Stay of Execution, and MOTION to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, MOTION for Summary Judgment by Gary Hornbaker, Frank C. Sizer Jr., William Williams (Attachments: (1) Memorandum (2) Exhibit A (3) Exhibit B (4) Exhibit C (5) Exhibit D (6) Exhibit E (7) Exhibit F (8) Exhibit G)(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

5

RESPONSE to Defendant's Opposition to Request for Stay of Execution, and 4 MOTION to Dismiss or, in the Alternative MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Steven Howard Oken (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

6

MOTION to Compel Defendants to Immediately Produce Documents and for Production of all Documents Pertaining to the Execution of Plaintiffby Steven Howard Oken(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

ORDER granting 7 Motion for David M. Barron to Appear Pro Hac Vice. Signed by Clerk of Court on 6/14/04. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Hearing held on Motion by Plaintiff Steven Oken for Stay of Execution. (esp, Deputy Clerk) (Reporter: Marshall) Modified on 1/12/2006 (esp, Deputy Clerk). (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Argument of counsel. (esp, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

Ruling taken under advisement. (esp, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/14/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

11

EXHIBIT List by Steven Howard Oken. (esp, Deputy Clerk) Additional attachment(s) added on 6/15/2004 (lad3, Deputy Clerk). (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 14, 2004

June 14, 2004

8

OPINION. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/14/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 15, 2004

June 15, 2004

9

ORDER "STAYING" the Warrant of Execution of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County pending further Order of this Court. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/14/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 15, 2004

June 15, 2004

10

NOTICE OF APPEAL by Gary Hornbaker, Frank C. Sizer Jr., William Williams. Filing fee $ 255. Appeal Record due by 7/15/2004. (Kennedy, David) (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 15, 2004

June 15, 2004

12

ORDER of USCA "DENYING" The Commissioner of the Maryland Division of Correction and other state officials Motion to vacate the USDC Order staying the execution of Steven H. Oken; as to 10 Notice of Appeal filed by Gary Hornbaker, William Williams, Frank C. Sizer (mlb, Deputy Clerk) Additional attachment(s) added on 6/16/2004 (mlb, Deputy Clerk). (Entered: 06/16/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

13

REVISED ORDER of USCA DENYING" The Commissioner of the Maryland Division of Correction and other state officials Motion to vacate the USDC Order staying the execution of Steven H. Oken; as to 10 Notice of Appeal filed by Gary Hornbaker, William Williams, Frank C. Sizer (Attachments: # 1 Letter To Counsel from USCA)(mlb, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/16/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

14

TRANSCRIPT of Proceedings held before Messitte, J. on 6/14/04 (ajh, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

15

ORDER Sealing Exhibit 9(A) of Volume 1 (Paper No. 1). Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/16/04. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

16

ORDER Sealing Exhibit 9 of Volume 2 (Paper No. 2). Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/16/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

17

ORDER (copy) by Supreme Court of the United States "GRANTING" the Application to Vacate the Stay of Execution (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

18

ORDER (copy) by the Supreme Court of the United States "DENYING" the Application for Stay of Execution of Sentence of Death and "DENYING the Petition for Writ of Certiorari(lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004

Motion Hearing held in Chambers re: 19 Amended Complaint before Messitte, J. (Court Reporter: Tracy Dunlap ) (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

20

Final ORDER of Judgment "Denying" the relief sought under the Amended Complaint, "Dismissing" the case, and "Denying" the Motion to Stay. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/17/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

21

Request for Declaratory Judgment, Temporary Injunction and Citation of Correct Standard of Proof by Steven Howard Oken (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

22

ORDER denying 21 Motion for Declaratory Judgment, denying 21 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/17/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

23

NOTICE OF APPEAL as to 22 Order on Motion for Declaratory Judgment, Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction by Steven Howard Oken. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

24

ORDER "Sealing" the transcript of the telephone conference held 6/17/04. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 6/17/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

25

TRANSCRIPT of Proceedings held on June 17, 2004 before Judge Messitte. Court Reporter: Tracy Dunlap. (Filed under Seal) (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/17/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

26

ORDER of USCA "DENYING" Motion for Temporary Injunction to Preserve Appellate Jurisdiction as to 23 Notice of Appeal filed by Steven Howard Oken (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/23/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

27

ORDER (copy) by the Supreme Court of the United States "DENYING" the Application for Stay of Execution and "DENYING" the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari on 6/17/2004. (lad3, Deputy Clerk) (Entered: 06/23/2004)

June 17, 2004

June 17, 2004

Case Details

State / Territory: Maryland

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 14, 2004

Closing Date: 2004

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

a death-sentenced inmate at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore, Maryland

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Maryland Department of Correction (Baltimore), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2004 - 2004

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

Death Penalty:

Lethal Injection - General