Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Arkansas fights on multiple legal fronts to begin executions

Arkansas AG scrambles to overturn stays of execution of 8 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Craig Ferguson | 18 April, 2017, 03:00

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen placed a temporary restraining order on the state's ability to use the second drug in its lethal injection protocol - vecuronium bromide. "We continue to call on Governor Hutchinson to use his executive authority to permanently stop this assembly line of death", said James Clark, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA. The company, along with other pharmaceutical makers, objects to its drug being used in executions. Supporters have said it is effective, and the U.S. Supreme Court has authorized its use.

"We have worked round the clock for the last couple of weeks and particularly in the last couple of days, as judges have made decisions and court cases have been filed in these pieces of litigation, to ensure again that justice is carried out for these families of the victims", Rutledge told Little Rock NBC-affiliate KARK.

The judge determined that their concerns were sufficient to halt the executions for the time being, to allow the issue to be considered by the courts. If court proceedings are pushed into May, Arkansas won't be able to carry out the executions with the drugs it has on hand.

Justices in a 4-3 decision granted stays Monday afternoon for Don Davis and Bruce Ward.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has reissued its order that halted the execution of one of the first inmates facing lethal injection under the state's multiple execution plan.

Another federal judge and the state Supreme Court had already granted stays to two of the eight inmates, reducing the number of planned executions to six within an 11-day period.

The inmates asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to take its time reviewing transcripts and rulings, rather than complete their work in two days as the state has asked.

But after issuing the order, Griffen allowed himself to be strapped to a cot during a protest to simulate an inmate being injected.

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Any significant delay in court arguments could make them largely meaningless: Arkansas' midazolam supply expires April 30 and the state says it has no source for additional doses.

Judge Wendell Griffen of the 6th Judicial Circuit here had stopped the state's planned scheduled executions Friday with a temporary restraining order that San Francisco-based McKesson Medical-Surgical had requested, saying the Arkansas Department of Correction misled the medical supplies company when it obtained the lethal drugs. Rutledge's office says the court indicated that three justices would have denied the request.

Ward's attorneys have argued he is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution. "After hearing the evidence ... the court is compelled to stay these executions", she said.

The state was still moving forward with plans to conduct the Monday night executions in the event that all stays were lifted. The Attorney General's office plans to appeal the decision to the Eighth Circuit.

"138 people have been released from death row in the United States following a review of their convictions, it is something which has been used to kill innocent people in the past".

Executions were scheduled to begin tonight at 7- but this morning- there's a lot of uncertainty about what's going to happen.

"The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions".

The court found that the evidence did not show the state's protocol for executing prisoners is very likely to "cause severe pain and needless suffering".

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