Texas officials have agreed to keep secret certain records pertaining to the autopsy of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, who died following Oklahoma’s botched execution attempt April 29.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion Friday siding with Oklahoma officials’ contention that the release of certain information, such as records identifying the supplier of lethal-injection drugs, is confidential under Oklahoma law.
However, he overruled a request by Oklahoma officials that other details of the autopsy report be kept secret.
Oklahoma officials intervened in a records request made by the Tulsa World and others after Texas officials appeared ready to release certain information that officials here argued should be kept private.
Oklahoma’s request for confidentiality contrasts with a statement Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson made in late June that the Lockett autopsy report would be made public along with the agency’s findings.
Oklahoma officials asked the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office to conduct the autopsy following the April 29 execution of Lockett, 38.
In June, the World requested a copy of Lockett’s autopsy report from Dallas County officials.
The request included any reports, photographs, preliminary and final autopsy reports, and any communications with Oklahoma officials concerning the Lockett autopsy.
The World did not plan to publish any photographs of Lockett but rather sought any information they might divulge.
Dallas County officials asked the Texas attorney general to rule on the World’s information request.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion Aug. 4 that appears to respond to concerns voiced by Oklahoma officials about the World’s request. In its response, Texas Attorney General’s Office sided with Oklahoma’s contention that the county must withhold information made confidential pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
However, Texas officials said any information created by Dallas County officials is not subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act and may not be withheld from the public.
On Friday, a DPS attorney sent Texas officials another letter seeking clarification. The letter refers to the possible release of seven exhibits included in the pending autopsy report that officials here claim are confidential under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
“These exhibits contain information that (1) falls within Texas’s public safety exception and (2) is specifically confidential under Oklahoma law,” wrote Kim Rytter, Oklahoma Department of Public Safety assistant general counsel, in a letter to Abbott.
At issue are photographs taken by the Dallas County medical examiner. The photos include information that identifies the pharmacist associated with the lethal-injection drugs, the attending physician and DOC personnel, according to the letter from Rytter.
A letter dated the same day from Abbott’s office agreed with Oklahoma officials that records revealing identities of the pharmacy and pharmacist who supplied the drugs, the attending physician and DOC personnel who participated in the execution process are confidential under Oklahoma law and must be withheld by Dallas County officials.
Abbott declined a request by Oklahoma officials to shield other unidentified records contained in the autopsy report, stating that the autopsy information created by the county in the remaining exhibits is not subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
“Therefore, no portion of the remaining submitted information, that is, information created by the county, may be withheld on the basis of Oklahoma’s confidentiality provision,” according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
An Oklahoma DPS spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.