Norton Rose Fulbright assists Oklahoma Commission in death penalty reform recommendations

Business April 28, 2017

The Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission, a firm pro bono client, recently published its report after an independent, yearlong study of the state's capital punishment system.

Throughout 2016, a team of nearly 100 US lawyers contributed more than 1,000 hours to the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission's effort to conduct a comprehensive review of the state's death penalty jurisprudence over the past 40 years.

This bipartisan review commission formed shortly after Oklahoma executions were put on hold in late 2015 when a grand jury investigation identified multiple problems with the death penalty process. The commission's nearly 300-page report recommends this hold be extended and proposes dozens of changes to the process be implemented to correct flaws in Oklahoma's capital punishment system.

The review commission specifically thanked us in its final report for our key role in the yearlong study, which revealed that "the death penalty, even in Oklahoma, has not always been imposed and carried out fairly, consistently, and humanely, as required by the federal and state constitutions."

Since the death penalty's reinstatement in 1976, Oklahoma is currently ranked second in number of executions.

The review commission's report and recommendations have potentially far-reaching implications on how the death penalty is applied in the US and how wrongful convictions can be minimized. The study has garnered much attention from major media outlets, including Reuters, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post.

Leaf McGregor (Minneapolis) was instrumental in managing this pro bono effort, valued at more than $500,000. All of our lawyers and staff who contributed are recognized in the report's appendix.