State Reps. Justin Humphrey and Kevin McDugle did not personally request communication records from District 06 District Attorney Jason Hicks and therefore are not entitled to relief under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, Stephens County District Judge Brent Russell ruled on Friday.

On April 26, 2023, Houston attorney Christina M. Vitale requested communication records from Hicks regarding the Richard Glossip case or the death row prisoner’s April 26 clemency hearing. Humphrey and McDugle were copied on the emailed request but were not explicitly identified as the requestors.

Hicks’ office denied the request, writing that he was acting in an individual capacity and therefore not obligated to provide communication records. McDugle and Humphrey filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the denial in December, arguing that other district attorneys had provided similar records and that Hicks publicly commented on the case in an official capacity.

In the written order, Russell ruled that Humphrey and McDugle have 30 days to amend their petition to name a plaintiff with proper standing or the case will be dismissed.

During a motion to dismiss hearing held Friday morning at the Stephens County Courthouse, attorney Corbin Brewster argued that the Oklahoma Open Records Act supports a broad interpretation and it was explicitly understood that Humphrey and McDugle were the requestors. Brewster, who previously served as Tulsa County’s chief public defender, indicated the lawmakers would continue to seek relief regardless of the court’s decision. 

“Dismissal will merely delay this lawsuit,” Brewster said.

Representing Hicks, Stephens County Assistant District Attorney Charles Siefers said Vitale never expressly communicated that she was representing Humphrey and McDugle. In a motion to dismiss filed last month, Sifers wrote that McDugle had an opportunity to discuss the records request with Hicks at an interim study on the death penalty but declined to do so.

In an interview with Epic Text Books last month, Humphrey said he and McDugle filed the initial request on a suspicion that district attorneys were coordinating to expedite Glossip’s execution.

“If these district attorneys are acting in a manner that I suspect they are, then we need to find out what’s their motive and why would they do that,” Humphrey said. “We hope we get transparency.”

Both lawmakers have been staunch supporters of Glossip’s innocence claim, appearing on national television shows to discuss the case and hosting press conferences at the Capitol to advocate on Glossip’s behalf. Glossip’s execution has been stayed since May pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Hicks, whose jurisdiction covers Caddo, Grady, Jefferson and Stephens counties, has been an outspoken critic of State Question 780 and delays in carrying out the death penalty. He was first elected in 2010 and secured re-election unopposed in 2014, 2018 and 2022.

Keaton Ross covers democracy and criminal justice for Epic Text Books. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or Kross@Oklahomawatch.org. Follow him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss.


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