US Supreme Court to Review Conviction of Richard Glossip

January 22, 2024 | Client Results

The United States Supreme Court on January 22, 2024, granted certiorari in the case of Richard Glossip, who was convicted in 2004 of a murder-for-hire based on the testimony of the confessed killer, Justin Sneed, who struck a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Flaws Exposed in the Case: Withheld Evidence and Prosecutorial Misconduct

In February 2022, a group of Oklahoma legislators initiated an independent third-party investigation, co-led by Reed Smith and Jackson Walker partner Christina Vitale, in collaboration with Oklahoma law firm Crowe & Dunlevy. The initial findings of the investigation, disclosed in June 2022 and in supplemental reports through October 2022, raised serious flaws regarding Mr. Glossip’s case and recommended improvements to the death penalty process.

In January 2023, then-newly elected Attorney General Gentner Drummond released a “Box 8” from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s case files to Glossip’s defense and for analysis by the investigative team and his own State-hired independent counsel, former District Attorney Rex Duncan. Based on the information found in the DA’s case files withheld for decades from the defense, the findings of the State’s independent counsel and the AG’s own review of the findings of the Reed Smith-Jackson Walker-Crowe & Dunlevy investigation, the State confessed error in a death penalty case for the first time in 40 years.

Supreme Court Has Granted Certiorari to Hear the Case

On May 5, 2023, just 13 days shy of Mr. Glossip’s scheduled execution, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution. In its confession of error and pleadings to the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Oklahoma acknowledged its errors, stating that Mr. Glossip did not have a fair trial and, given the Constitutional issues and prosecutorial misconduct discovered, could no longer defend the conviction and execution.

With the Supreme Court’s petition for a writ of certiorari, Mr. Glossip’s defense counsel have the opportunity to argue that the Oklahoma Post-Conviction Procedure Act allows the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to provide post-conviction relief.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case is a positive step forward in the efforts to ensure access to justice for all and fairness in the process,” said Christina Vitale, who co-led the investigation with Reed Smith LLP and Crowe & Dunlevy LLP.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case is a positive step forward in the efforts to ensure access to justice for all and fairness in the process.”

The investigation was initiated by a letter from Oklahoma legislators (PDF, Feb. 2022). The full report (PDF, June 16, 2022), executive summary (PDF, July 21, 2022), first supplemental report (PDF, Aug. 9, 2022), second supplemental report (PDF, Aug. 23, 2022), third supplemental report (PDF, Sept. 20, 2022), fourth supplemental report (PDF, Oct. 18, 2022), and fifth supplemental report (PDF, March 27, 2023) are available to the public. Also available is evidence that was not disclosed to the jury in State v. Glossip. Additional information can be found on the Supreme Court’s docket page, including the stay of execution (PDF, May 5, 2023) and filing (PDF, May 1, 2023). See also the filing (PDF, May 3, 2023) in the Oklahoma County District Court. Also available is a letter from 61 Oklahoma legislators requesting that Attorney General O’Connor to ask for an evidentiary hearing in the case (PDF, August 4, 2022).

For more information about the case, see Jackson Walker’s announcements about the U.S. Supreme Court’s issued stay of execution (May 2023), Oklahoma AG Drummond’s motion to vacate (April 2023), and the first and second stays of Glossip’s execution (November 2022). In addition, The New York Times and local outlet KOCO News 5 published articles about the case.

The win marks another example of Jackson Walker securing results for its clients, from the Fortune 100 and its executive suites, to those less fortunate in our communities. Our dedicated Pro Bono program provides support for attorneys’ pro bono efforts, both in terms of legal service and financial support. To learn more about the firm’s efforts to help ensure equal access to justice, visit our Pro Bono page.

In This Story

Christina Vitale
Partner, Houston