Oklahoma State Attorney General Requests to Vacate Richard Glossip’s Death Row Conviction

April 7, 2023 | Client Results

On April 6, 2023, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a motion to vacate the conviction of Richard Glossip, a state inmate who has been on death row for 25 years, and remand the case to the district court for a new trial.

“After thorough and serious deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot stand behind the murder conviction and death sentence of Richard Glossip,” Drummond stated in a news release issued today.

AG Drummond’s motion was filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals three days after Rex Duncan, the Independent Counsel that AG Drummond had appointed to review the case, submitted his final findings. The Independent Counsel’s final report, which was also released to the public yesterday, asserts that the State can no longer stand behind Glossip’s 2004 conviction and death sentence.

In his report, Independent Counsel Duncan points to the multiple potential Brady and Napue violations that were only recently discovered in newly revealed evidence that had previously been withheld from Glossip’s defense counsel for 25 years, as well as other errors made by the state during the long history of this case. This previously withheld evidence was first reviewed by a team of independent, third-party investigators from the law firms of Reed Smith, Jackson Walker, and Crowe & Dunlevy.

“As the U.S. Supreme Court declared in the landmark 2004 case of Banks v. Dretke, when prosecutorial misconduct occurs, ‘it is ordinarily incumbent on the State to set the record straight,’” said Reed Smith partner David Weiss, one of the lawyers working on the law firms’ investigation. “We are gratified that this is finally occurring in Glossip’s case.”

The newly revealed evidence was first reported to the public by the Reed Smith/Jackson Walker/Crowe & Dunlevy investigative team on March 27 in a Fifth Supplemental Report to its ongoing independent investigation into Glossip’s case and conviction. The potential Brady and Napue violations cited in Duncan’s report were found in a box of evidence (Box 8) from the District Attorney’s Office Case Files that were only made available in February 2023 after AG Drummond took office.

“We are grateful for Attorney General Drummond’s reversal of his predecessor’s decision to withhold Box 8, and for setting the record straight today with his motion to vacate,” said Christina Vitale, one of the Jackson Walker partners working on the investigation. “We are also thankful for the prompt and thoughtful investigation of Independent Counsel Duncan, and for the privilege of representing the Oklahoma legislators who sought clarity in this important matter.”

About the Investigation

In February 2022, a group of Oklahoma legislators commissioned an independent, third-party investigation into Glossip’s case led by Reed Smith, Jackson Walker and Crowe & Dunlevy.

In 2022, a Reed Smith team of 30 lawyers devoted more than 3,700 hours, pro bono, to this investigation.

On June 15, 2022, Reed Smith partner Stan Perry announced the team’s initial findings in a 343-page report at a joint press conference that raised significant concerns about Glossip’s case and conviction, as well as several recommendations for improving the death penalty system in Oklahoma.

In January 2023, Attorney General Drummond appointed former District Attorney Rex Duncan to serve as independent counsel on behalf of the State of Oklahoma to undertake a review of the case and provide his findings.

In February 2023, Attorney General Drummond reversed former Attorney General John O’Connor’s decision and released Box 8 from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s case files.  Attorney General Drummond then allowed access of Box 8 to Reed Smith, Jackson Walker, and Crowe & Dunlevy, who conducted their analysis.

The Reed Smith investigative team’s fifth supplemental report (pdf, March 27, 2023), fourth supplemental report (pdf, Oct. 18, 2022), third supplemental report (pdf, Sept. 20, 2022), second supplemental report (pdf, Aug. 23, 2022), first supplemental report (pdf, Aug. 9, 2022), executive summary (pdf, July 21, 2022) and full report (pdf, June 16, 2022) are available to the public.

For additional information about the case, see “Jackson Walker Secures Second Stay of Execution of Death Row Inmate.”

In This Story

Christina Vitale
Partner, Houston